Luke 10:21-42  There is need for only one thing

If I could look through the eyes of God, I would see each person completely.  I would know their sorrows and their fears, and, tellingly, all their little mundane moments.  I would know the smell of them and the way their body feels when standing, and would ride the currents of worry and joy that run through their minds.  I would know every hair on their heads. And seeing and knowing all this, I would love them with the complete compassion and understanding that now, limited and human, I only offer to those I know most intimately.

It is not God’s great intelligence that stops me in my tracks and forces me to wonder.  It is God’s everlasting compassion. The three Os don’t matter here. God may or may not be omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent, seeing all, everywhere, and able to act with all power.  It’s God’s omnipassion that matters, that silences or enhances these other attributes. Compassionate of all, God doesn’t see to judge, isn’t simply present without caring, doesn’t act to reward or mete out punishment.  Our problem as human beings is not that we can’t know like God knows. It’s that we can’t love like God loves.

For God, everyone is neighbor, and more than neighbor, beloved.  The Good Samaritan is another flawed being trying to love like God.  Able to see past his social identity, able to act beyond the confines of his tribe, he is still limited, as we all are.  He is not Jesus, who is and was the human being who can see through God’s eyes and feel God’s complete compassion for everything.  When Jesus talks about the Good Samaritan, he is simply providing a model of what’s possible for the lawyer whom he’s talking to. Sometimes we catch little glimpses of God’s infinite compassion.  None of us get to live in it all the time. But all of us can sketch what we glimpsed in our own moments of limited, flawed compassion. All of us can be like the Good Samaritan.

In the end there is only one thing.  It is that ecstatic, beautiful, all encompassing compassion.  It is that ability to look through God’s eyes. Mary of Bethany knows it, and when she sits at Jesus’ feet, she is trying to see as he sees and hear as he hears.  Really, that’s all that matters.

 

Karl Stevens is an Episcopal priest, a spiritual director, and a writer and artist. As a priest he has served as a college chaplain, a parish priest, a diocesan missioner, and a director of children and youth formation. As a spiritual director he has worked privately with directees and led groups of other directors in organizing retreats and special events. As an artist, he co-curated the EASE Gallery, created a series of paintings on the Stations of the Cross that have been used by area churches, and displays work and writings on kpbstevens.com. In addition to all of this, he is the co-host of the Lost in the Wilderness podcast, along with Rabbi Daniel Bogard. He is married with one child and lives in Grandview Heights.