Later today I am taking a funeral, at which I have been asked to read the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). It is, I think, a relatively well-known story, though an unfamiliar one in the context of a funeral. And yet, it is fitting.
The painful, disorienting experience of being bereaved can be compared, by way of analogy, to being beaten, stripped, and left as good as dead on the side of the road. And at such times we may find that some of the people, places, or even memories we would have expected to support us are unwilling or unable to do so. People are embarrassed; don’t know what to say; are afraid of saying the wrong thing. Even so, God comes to us, in and through unexpected means, cleaning our open wounds, binding our broken hearts, carrying us. Also drawing others into the narrative of our slow recovery, perhaps for the first time or in a new dynamic.
At times, we find ourselves the man left to die on the side of the road. Robbed of our self-sufficiency as well as our loved one—humiliated—we must rely on the mercy of strangers. Must learn, also, to forgive those who stand at a distance. At times, God invites us to be the innkeeper in one another’s story, to be the one through whom ongoing support is given—and this is a holy mystery, that God should use any one of us in this way. In such other-focused ways we step, or stumble, into the fullness of life.
Where have you found yourself, or where do you find yourself, in the parable? In what unexpected form has God come to you?