Sunday’s gospel reading was the story of the Samaritan who returned to Jesus reminding me of course of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). The story is well known, but the implication for our lives is sometimes forgotten.

“There was a traveler going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, who fell prey to robbers. The traveler was beaten, stripped naked, and left half-dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road; the priest saw the traveler lying beside the road, but passed by on the other side. Likewise there was a Levite who came the same way; this one, too, saw the afflicted traveler and passed by on the other side.”

“But a Samaritan, who taking the same road, also came upon the traveler and, filled with compassion, approached the traveler and dressed the wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then the Samaritan put the wounded person on a donkey, went straight to an inn and there took care of the injured one. The next day the Samaritan took out two silver pieces and gave them to the innkeeper with the request, ‘Look after this person, and if there is any further expense, I’ll repay you on the way back.’”

“Which of these three, in your opinion, was the neighbor to the traveler who fell in with the robbers?” The answer came, “The one who showed compassion.”

Jesus replied, “Then go and do the same.”

In whatever community or society we find ourselves — religious, political, cultural, national, etc. — there are some awesome benefits, but too often those spaces can be highly inhospitable and even death-dealing to it’s own people and to those it considers “outsiders.” Each one of us can consciously and unconsciously alienate, oppress, and discriminate against others at both the personal and institutional levels.

On this day and every day, we must chose love over and against fear, hatred, and complacency. On this day and every day, we must choose to be advocates at all levels of society to ensure a life of justice and compassion for all.

This does not mean just for the people we like or are comfortable with because they are like us. No. This means all people, and especially the people whom we don’t understand, who are on the edges of the mainstream (often because the dominant group has forced them there), and for whom we have deep-seated assumptions and prejudices that have been perpetuated day after day, generation after generation.

On this day, and every day, let pray not just for those who are suffering from physical blows, damning words, loss of life and home, and other violence, but let us also pray that we might search our hearts, our actions, our day to day actions and beliefs and root out all forms of fear and hatred, however small and unassuming they may seem.