Reading Amos 7:7-17; Luke 10:25-37 (NRSV)
The historical link between today’s readings from the Old and New Testament provides a different perspective for both passages. In the Old Testament reading, God gives farmer Amos a message for the people of Israel. Amos says that God has set a standard for upright behavior, like a plumb line shows how far from vertical a wall or fence post is. The priest tells Amos to stop telling us what we don’t want to hear; go preach to someone else, like in Judah, the southern kingdom of the Hebrew people. Amos warns that Israel will go into exile.
Time passes. Israel does go into exile. The descendants of those left behind are called the Samaritans, a people despised by the Hebrew people of Judah. More time passes.
In Luke, a lawyer asks Jesus for a standard for upright behavior. Jesus points toward the law: love God and your neighbor as yourself. When the lawyer probes further, Jesus tells of a Samaritan as the standard for upright behavior. The Samaritan is the only person who helped the man in need. The one who was most despised becomes the one who is most revered.
Kind acts may redeem a people. And, they can serve as a plumb line to show the rest of us what upright behavior looks like.
Let us pray. O, God, thank you for showing us what upright behavior looks like. May our kind acts show others your love. Amen.