“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, love your neighbour as yourself” (Luke 10:27).
Windows up, air conditioner on and car karaoke tunes pumping to make the repetitious commute as painless as possible. Kaboom! At the lights up ahead, the sound of screeching brakes, smashing glass and ripping metal is horrific and offensive to every ear. Shocked silence. Stillness. Now what?
The moments after a road crash magnify the best and worst of human nature. Strangers put their commute on pause and pull over, and a heightened sense of purpose prevails. Checks of drivers and passengers happen quickly, emergency services are called, and so often, professionals with the capacity to care move quietly into action as responsibility for traffic management is taken care of by random tradies. Annoyed by the inconvenience, others slowly pass by, shake their heads, stickybeak, or get on the socials to stream and comment. Help arrives, care is given, wrecks are cleared, and the daily rhythm returns. Just another day on the road!
The Samaritan took a huge risk to stop, help and be generous! Through the lens of ancient cultural bias, other travellers were highly likely to assume that the Samaritan was the bad guy and stopped only long enough to steal from the stranger on the road. He risked judgement and punishment to render selfless help. So, why risk it? Extreme emergencies crystalise character, yet, gentle and humble acts of loving and serving latently permeate our daily lives, going unseen, unsaid and unknown. What motivates small or significant selfless acts? What’s our collective, “Why”?
Empathy and vocation are strong advocates for action. Deeply understanding needs allows sensitivity in our response. Wisdom is what guides decision-making as people serve their neighbours and the community. A crucial element is our capacity to listen, to ensure that we understand the specific needs of a particular neighbour at any given moment. As we listen, we stand beside our neighbour rather than assuming a position of superiority, thinking we know what the neighbour needs in advance. By asking, we serve through “doing with” rather than “doing for”.
Grace sets us free to listen and “do with” because of what our loving Lord has already “done for” us on the cross and because he first loved us. God made us to be social, to be thoughtful, to notice, to ask, to listen in empathy. God designed us to actively live in community and share the road with family, friends and strangers every day. It’s not just another day on the road. God’s unconditional gift of love to us and a deep calling of the heart lead our response. That’s our vocation. That’s our “why”!
Lord of love, thank you for knowing me deeply and coming to me again in unconditional love today. You know the speed bumps in my day ahead. Guide my interactions, my listening and my words. Thank you for being on the road and doing life with me. Amen.