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Faith Matters: Go and do likewise

  • The Rev. Heather Blais outside The Episcopal Church of Saints James and Andrew in Greenfield. Recorder Staff/PAUL FRANZ

  • Rev. Heather Blais outside The Episcopal Church of Saints James and Andrew in Greenfield. September 26, 2018 Recorder Staff/PAUL FRANZ

  • Episcopal Church of Saints James and Andrew in Greenfield. Recorder/Paul Franz



Rector, Episcopal Church of Saints James and Andrew
Wednesday, October 10, 2018

(Each Saturday, a faith leader in Franklin County offers a personal perspective in this space. To become part of this series, email religion@recorder.com)

While on sabbatical from Saints James and Andrew this summer, our family spent some time in Ireland. One of our favorite stops was in Westport, County Mayo, a lovely community with a lively downtown featuring shops, a wide array of restaurants, and enough tourists to double the town’s population. In many ways, the community reminded us of Greenfield. While perusing the streets one morning, we noticed a disheveled man sitting on the ground, relying on the wall to sit upright. He appeared to either be asleep, unconscious, or worse. His very presence was a bit unusual on the tidy streets of Westport.

When we drew closer, we noticed three people gathered around the man. Were these people trying to help him? Should we try to help? Was he going to be okay? How would our kids react to seeing a dying man? As these thoughts raced through my mind, one of the bystanders knelt down to check the man’s pulse, another began to administer CPR, and the third called for help. It became clear the man had all the bodily help he needed, and so we continued on while offering our silent prayers. When we drove by an hour later, we noticed there were several police cars on the scene, an ambulance, and sheets being held up, as the first responders tried to respect the deceased man’s dignity.

That night, as we snuggled our sons during bedtime prayers, our 7-year-old remained concerned for the deceased man. So we prayed that the man would experience the peace and unconditional love of Almighty God in eternal life. We left Westport committed to remembering this man, as well as the kindness of the strangers and first responders. Their actions were a final act of love, given to a man who had departed this world cold and alone.

Since leaving Westport, Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan has stuck with me (Luke 10:25-37). While trying to illustrate to a lawyer what it means to love your neighbor, Jesus tells the story of a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho who is attacked by a band of robbers and left for dead on the side of the road. A priest walking by noticed the man. Did he run over to help? No. In fact, he crossed the street just to avoid the guy. A bit later, another faith leader does the same thing. Yet when a Samaritan, someone who practiced a different form of Judaism and was seen as an outsider, noticed the man, he was moved with compassion. So much so that he bandaged and tended the man’s wounds, and took him to the nearest inn, where he got a room and took care of the injured man. The next day the Samaritan paid the innkeeper and instructed him to take care of the man, assuring him he would cover any additional cost. Jesus then asks the lawyer, which man demonstrated how to love your neighbor? and the lawyer answered, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus tells the lawyer, and more importantly, us, to “Go and do likewise.”

The Good Samaritan went out of his way to help the injured stranger. He had somewhere more important to be, but he still stopped. He could have just bandaged the injured man, and moved along. Instead, he took him to a nearby inn, tended to him until he couldn’t stay any longer, and then paid the innkeeper to continue caretaking. He helped a stranger, who in all likelihood would have looked down upon him for being an outsider. Yet he put his own agenda, schedule, needs, and money aside to have mercy on a stranger.

Similarly, the three strangers on the side of the road in Westport put their own agenda, schedules, and needs aside to have mercy on a stranger. We are all called upon to be moved with pity when we see our neighbors in distress. In choosing to follow Jesus, we are choosing to set our own agendas, busy schedules, ambitions, needs, and money aside to have mercy on our neighbors. When you notice someone hurting this week, how might you have mercy on them? Will you buy them a meal? Offer to tend their wounds? Connect them to a resource that can provide help? And when we see love in action, how will we carry those images with us to remind us to ‘go and do likewise’?

About the Episcopal Church of Saints James and Andrew

On Sundays, we worship with a spoken Holy Eucharist at 8 a.m. in the Chapel, and the 10 a.m. service of Eucharist in the church includes music and is accompanied by Sunday School. We are open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to noon. All as welcome. We are at 8 Church St. 413-773-3925. www.saintsjamesandandrew.org.