Parables are usually not about what they’re actually about. The Parable of the Talents isn’t really about money. The Parable of the Prodigal Son isn’t really about the Prodigal Son. The Parable of the Evil Tenants has nothing to do with landowner rent collection practices. The truth about parables is that when you think you’ve got the obvious answer, you really have nothing at all. This is a relief because there is an obvious line in Sunday’s Parable of the Good Samaritan that should have every member of the clergy swallowing hard.
“Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.” This is a really difficult sentence. This sentence makes me feel about the same way that Pat Robertson after a natural disaster makes me feel. “Gee, thanks for representing our faith and our vocation with such active jerkery.” This guy SAW THE BEATEN AND BATTERED HEBREW IN THE DITCH and chose to cross the street and avoid him.
It is no secret that the Church is shrinking. While I believe that there are larger and more fundamental underlying cultural reasons for this, what actually gets reported are statistics that say, essentially, “I don’t go to church because all y’all are is a bunch of hypocrites.” This fact gets exacerbated by clergy who often times are aloof, if they are anything at all. There are plenty of examples of clergy members who engage in just the sort of active jerkery of the Priest in the story of the Good Samaritan. So here’s my thought for today. Let’s forget about evangelism for now. Instead, let’s work on being less jerky toward our fellow human beings. Maybe then we’ll have some ground to stand on when we say that we follow a God who is love (1 Jn 4.8).