MySpiritualAdvisor.com’s Mark Kurowski reflects on Love, *sigh*…No! Silly, God’s love, our love, people we hate to love and all of the above. What does the hatred that Samaritans and Jews have to do with love? Listen to this podcast of his reflection on the readings for the 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time to find out. Please read Luke 10:25-37 #Samaritan #Luke10 #LouHoltz #Sermons #Homilies
Loving: Luke 10:25-37
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This is a previously aired podcast. Mark Kurowski is on break until next week.
MySpiritualAdvisor.com, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 7/14/2013 The 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Please pause this audio and read Luke 10.25-37.
“Listen carefully, my son, to the master’s instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart.” (RSB, prologue:1), is how the Rule of Saint Benedict opens. This classic plan of monastic living is constantly being adapted by different communities across the world, even though it is a document that is around 1,500 years old. Believe it or not, when I thought of how to explain the concept of “listening with the ear of your heart,” which is a wonderful expression, I could not help but think of the talk that my son’s basketball coach gave the other day after a devastating loss.
Now, I first have to tell you that my son’s coach is old school. When I say old school, what I mean is that he is “rub some dirt in it” old school. I think that is why I like Curtis Strong so much. After his team had lost a game by five points against a much superior opponent, a game in which his team had 30 turnovers, he said this, “Where were you in this game? You guys were just going through the motions. Where was your heart? Where was your tenacity? Where was your commitment to basketball?”
When he said that, it made me smile. “Where is your heart? Where is your commitment to basketball?” Yes, there is a concept out there called “basketball.” In Coach Strong’s mind, it is a concept that must be loved, nurtured and respected. There are ways you do things, no matter who you face as an opponent, and ways you do not do things. There is no written rule, it is unwritten because it comes from the heart. There is a passion behind it. When you approach the game with passion, dedication, commitment to the details, then you will win. When you approach the game with indifference, lack of passion and reliance on talent, then others will beat you day in and day out. If you have to be prompted to have passion for the game of basketball, then you don’t have it.
Now, let me make myself clear, God is not a game. God is not a concept. God is a person. God is a person who deserves respect. Even more than that, I have always known God as a red hot lover who is disciplined in pursuing what is best for his people. The Father in heaven, the Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, are one in their passion and pursuit: you and your welfare. When you approach a person, it means nothing if you have to be instructed on how to approach them with a long set of rules. That is not love, it is manipulation.
The teacher of the law who approaches Jesus in this passage today is not concerned about love, he concerned about learning the ins and outs of how to make himself look good while using his religion to do so. Again, that is not love, it is manipulation and exploitation for personal gain. To love may or may not be dripping with emotion, but it absolutely involves passion. Love does not count costs or add up tallies. Love gives with abandon in either a disciplined or undisciplined way. So, to sum it up, if you have to ask what you must do to love God or love your neighbor, you don’t get it.
I find the parable of the Good Samaritan interesting on so many levels. Of course, on the level of what it means to have passion in loving God and others, but also in the area of how love can be so very offensive and how we treat it as a commodity. Taking the latter, I have to say we have all kinds of rules for loving. We decide who can be loved, why they should be loved, whether they deserve to be loved. There are all kinds of ways that we treat love and it is usually about protecting ourselves. I wonder if we would be so concerned about loving others if we remembered that love is a quality that God gives to everyone and he doesn’t even expect or demand that everyone give it back.
We see that Jesus picks a Samaritan, a race of people despised by the Jews in Jerusalem, although their religions were practically the same except for the place where they worshiped. Jesus intentionally picks this despised class to be the one who knows how to love. He intentionally picks people who were pillars of the Jewish society to be people who put their self-interest over loving another: the priest and the Levite. The message is clear for us as Christians, we must love EVERYONE. There is no debate that involves holiness that can ignore the loving needs of others, the physical needs of others, just the overall welfare of others.
This story should cause us to ask who it is that we exclude from our love. Who do we say is not worthy because they are poor, not looking like we want, not acting like we want or who is not in the circle that we think is deserving? It might be good for us to think of the words of that American modern philosopher, Lou Holtz, the former football coach at Notre Dame, who said, “Those who need your love the most are those who deserve it the least.” Who deserves your love the least in your mind? Who do you encounter on a daily basis who just grates your last nerve? Who in your political thinking, conservative or liberal, deserves your love the least? Who in your economic decisions deserves your love the least? Who in your workplace, your church, or your family deserves your love the least?
Whoever it is, you must call upon your passionate love of God to get the strength to love them. You must love them, not necessarily overtly with emotion dripping all over it. That may be too much, but taking a note from the Good Samaritan, who took a risk to love a Jewish man lying injured on the road, how could you bind that person’s wounds? How could you pour soothing ointment on their hurts? How could you set them up at the Inn and pay their bill? Remember, the Samaritan did this for the injured man who probably was unconscious or too wounded to know who helped him.
So, don’t forget to love God with passionate abandon. Don’t forget to love others on his behalf. Don’t forget to love the least deserving. Don’t forget to make your plan. Finally, don’t forget to begin executing that plan today. Amen? Amen.
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Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian