[Jesus asked] "Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?" [The Lawyer] said, "The one who showed him mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise." "
- Luke 10:36-37
One of the most dangerous situations we routinely face is being tired. When we're tired, we make simple mistakes; or worse, we cease to care about the consequences of not doing something right. Athletes know it is risky to overtrain. Driving tired can be as bad as driving intoxicated.
It is likely that on their long journeys down the Jericho Road, the Priest and the Levite of Jesus' parable had good reasons to pass by the injured man. They were tired and busy; they were taking care of themselves. Yet the one who was a neighbor was the Samaritan that showed mercy.
Let's face it, church, most of us are tired right now. Early in the pandemic, I would often say to folks, "Take care of yourself. This will be a marathon, not a sprint." Now it feels like we passed the 26 mile marker months ago. Those of us with the priveledges of good health, access to quality care, and relatively secure finances are blessed. In our fatigue, we grasp for any level of pre-Covid normalcy. We are tired of masks, tired of shots, tired of precautions and quarantine. But just because we're tired doesn't mean we've reached the end. We must persevere, or weariness will lead to mistakes and callousness.
But this is not yet over. Today Houston slipped back to threat level red. Hospitals are full; vaccinated folks are getting breakthrough infections, and those who cannot be vaccinated are worried about what happens if they get sick. That doesn't even begin to address our siblings around the globe who don't have access to adequate health care or a Covid vaccine yet.
Now is not the time to fall asleep, now is the time to persevere in caring for our neighbor. There are many small ways you can offer mercy to others in this next pandemic wave. Wear your mask in groups and around people you don't know. Get vaccinated as soon as you can. Wash your hands regularly. Order food for people who are sick or who feel unsafe venturing out. Support businesses that are trying to keep their employees paid and safe at the same time. Join the call to share vaccine supplies with underserved populations. Have a hard conversation with that friend or family member who is hesitant to take precautions.
One of the things we sometimes miss about the story of the Good Samaritan is how small the actions of mercy are. Binding wounds, paying for care. This is was not a spotlight moment where the Samaritan knew his faith was on display. This is the way he naturally behaved because his faith had formed him.
Right now, we are tired, and there's not a clear end in sight. But our faith has formed us as a people of mercy. Keep being good neighbors, friends.