For this command that I enjoin on you today is not too mysterious and remote for you.
It is not up in the sky, that you should say, 'Who will go up in the sky to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?'
Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, 'Who will cross the sea to get it for us
and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?'
No, it is something very near to you,
already in your mouths and in your hearts;
you have only to carry it out."
Back in the day, when I was confined with a few dozen 19-year-old classmates to the novitiate for a year, and everyone's creative energies were superfluous, I had many nicknames, practically one for everyone in my class; and one of them was "Hero."
I don't know why Woody called me that. So far as I can remember I did nothing to earn the title, though I can remember boucoup foolish things.
What I have noticed about real heroes is they don't like the word. They insist they did nothing heroic; they did only what anyone would have done under the same circumstances.
Like our Good Samaritan. He saw a stranger beaten and half-dead, lying by the side of the road. He helped him. It was as simple as that. Since he knew the nearby innkeeper well, he gave him some extra money to care for the poor fellow who was still sleeping off his injuries.
Who wouldn't do the same?
Never mind the fact that others had seen the man and passed by on the far side of the road. They don't count.
Jesus also would have his day of heroic action. He didn't make a big deal of it before, during or after. When he was asked about it he remained silent. When he was raised from the dead, he said, "Go into the whole world."
The Good Samaritan reminds us that what is asked of us is not difficult. It's really pretty ordinary.
- Take up your cross each day and follow in my steps.
- The one who would come first must come last.
- Unless you die to yourself, you cannot live.
- Give away all you have and come follow me.
We know these are ordinary sacrifices because we have seen so many people do the same things for us. Our parents, family, teachers, pastors, friends, coaches, scout leaders and strangers -- all those people who helped us along the way and we forgot to thank. More often than not, we forgot to even notice.
So we give back as we can -- and hope nobody notices.