"The Good Samaritan" painting by Olga Bakhtina

Today: Psalms 41:7-13; Luke 10:25-42; Luke 11:1-4; Deuteronomy 2:24-37; Deuteronomy 3; Deuteronomy 4:1-14

Luke 10 – The Good Samaritan

I don’t think Jesus told the Good Samaritan story solely for the benefit of the lawyer who was questioning Him. I have a sneaking suspicion that it was also for the benefit of His disciples.

In the previous chapter, they had wanted to “command fire to come down from heaven and consume” a Samaritan village that had not welcomed them. Jews hated Samaritans. The disciples were no different. Their prejudice is revealed in their fiery request. They probably weren’t too keen on their boss’s proclivity to rub shoulders with those dirty Samaritans.

Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan turns their bigotry upside down. Jesus’ message was one of love, compassion, and humility where discrimination has no place.

Luke 10 – Mary & Martha

I am OCD and I’m a workaholic. I’m a natural Martha. I have trouble sitting still. I feel guilty if I’m not working and accomplishing something. I want all my minutes to count.

Learning to practice stilling was very difficult for me at first. It was so challenging to stop my mind; my thoughts would often race madly through my list of things I wanted to accomplish that day.

I still struggle with this sometimes.

But over time and with lots of practice, I have learned how to slow down and stop my thoughts so that I can focus on Jesus. Whenever my thoughts try to run off course, I like to whisper a prayer of St. Teresa de Avila, “Let nothing disturb the silence of this moment with You, my LORD.” That is a very powerful prayer. It usually shuts my mind right down.

Shifting over to Mary mode has been fantastically beneficial to my soul. Through meditative prayer, I sit “at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word” for at least an hour every day. Through this extended daily time with God, I have learned to recognize His voice much more clearly. My relationship with Him has grown deeper and much more meaningful than I ever dreamed was possible.

Learning to be still with God is the secret to true deep spiritual joy and peace. It is the secret to freeing ourselves from all the worries and distractions of this crazy world. It is the foundation of loving the Lord Your God “with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind.” (v.27) Seeking God’s presence is the “good part” and it will not be taken from those of us who yearn for it. (v.42)

The Death of Moses, Deuteronomy 34:1-12. Illustration from a Bible card published 1907 by the Providence Lithograph Company. Wikimedia

Deuteronomy 3

We get to see a little glimpse into Moses’ heart in Deuteronomy 3. He tells the people:

“I also pleaded with the LORD at that time saying, ‘Lord GOD, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your strong hand; for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do such works and mighty acts as Yours? Please let me cross over and see the good land that is beyond the Jordan, that good hill country, and Lebanon.’ But the LORD was angry with me on your account, and would not listen to me; instead, the LORD said to me, ‘Enough! Do not speak to Me any more about this matter.” (v.23-26)

And that was that.

God allowed Moses to view the Promised Land from the top of Pisgah. But he was not allowed to cross over Jordan.

Sometimes God says NO. Sometimes His NO is extremely painful. Sometimes His NO seems unfair. But His ways are higher than our ways. Who are we to question the Creator of the Universe?

Moses accepted God’s answer and went on about his business of faithfully following God’s direction until he was gathered up to his ancestors.

In the end, Moses DID get to go to the Promised Land — the most fantastic Promised Land that could ever exist — on the other side of the veil, in the presence of his best friend forever. When God said no, He actually was saying, “No, because I have something so much better for you! Come home, my friend. Come home to your eternal promised land and be with me, my faithful friend whom I love.”