Monday Week 27 Year II

This afternoon the director of this place asked me for a few moments of my time. Now maybe this is just me but my first thought was “what have I done wrong?” Not, as it turned out, “please could you get me out of this double-booking Rob?” But “you’re not keeping up to standards”. Isn’t that strange? I hate to parade my pathology before you but I was amazed at myself and amazed at how much I remain a creature of the Law. Because that’s what Paul is coming in so hard and heavy against the Galatians about. They have abandoned the good news of salvation for another set of standards they can’t help but fail to meet. Because if the gospel is to be good news for us it has to lift the burden off our shoulders and not lay it on heavier than ever.
The good news is that, whatever we might be tempted to think, the standards are gone, the Law is dead. If we are in Christ we cannot be condemned—even by ourselves…
So how does Jesus answer people like me—and like the lawyer—who are eager to justify themselves? He tells a story to confuse us: a story in which all the standards are dropped. The baddies are the poor buggers who have made a living out of the Law, out of being law-abiding themselves and policing others lives as well. And the hero is someone who, by the law’s standard doesn’t stand a chance—is ruled out of court before he starts. The Samaritan stands for all of us who fail to live the Law, fail to live lives of honour and holiness, fail to be good citizens, good fathers, mothers, children, priests. The Samaritan is Hitler, is Saddam Hussein, is George Bush or Tony Blair, is you and is me. It’s all about the company we like to keep. And it’s our choice—will we keep company with outlaws and crazies, will we claim kinship with the dirty, the damaged, and the depraved—or do we know our place too well, savour our goodness too much, do cling to our hope of doing better next time.
Wouldn’t it feel better to give up, to stop justifying our existence, wouldn’t it really be good news if we could take pity on ourselves and all the other poor failures too?