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The Samaritans are not allowing Jesus to pass through their village. Now, Jesus and His disciples no longer have a shortcut to Jerusalem. They have to take the long way. Bad Samaritans! They are racists; they hate Jews. At least that is what the disciples believe. The activists want to send down fireballs and wipe out hatred and bigotry forever and make the world a better place. Jesus stops them, and for good reason. The Samaritans are not racists. They simply want to prevent the disciples and Jesus from going to Jerusalem and worshiping in the wrong place. There is a better place to pray, and they are right. Take a wild guess who is going to be the first to discover this “better” place–a Samaritan.

Later, during the long journey to Jerusalem, Jesus met ten lepers who wanted to be cured. After they were made clean, they no longer had a contagious disease. They were legally permitted to rejoin society. Think of the options they would have had. Now they could walk into a crowded Starbucks and order a latte grande. For the first time, they could go home and give their mothers a hug and not worry about infecting them with a horrible illness. They could go to Home Depot and apply for a job. For the first time, they could lie on their backs, free of sores, and get a good night’s sleep. Of all the many wonderful possibilities, the Samaritan’s first option was to go back to Jesus and thank Him. He dropped to his knees and showed his gratitude. He must have told Him the whole story. He probably described how horrible leprosy can be– how he spent all his money on doctors who could not help him. How he was ostracized by society, and how he could not sleep at night. He may have mentioned his loss of taste for good food. He warmly thanked Jesus for freeing how He freed him from all of this suffering and how wonderful it was to get his life back. He worshipped his God by telling Christ how He was a part of his own life. Jesus must have been happy to hear how He had been a part of this man’s wonderful story.

There was a family who decided to take their father off of life support because the doctors could do no more. Before they did, they called for a priest to anoint the dad. I was the priest. I came into the hospital, anointed the man, spent a few minutes with the family, and left.  Two years later, a woman approached me and said, “I don’t think you remember me but you came and anointed my father before we were going to take him off of life support. You came in the middle of the night which was very comforting to us. What you do not know is that when you left, my father grew stronger. The next day we took him off of life support. A week later, we took him home.”  Naturally, I was thrilled to get such good news and to be a part of such a wonderful story.

My point is this–the Samaritan teaches us that you don’t have to go to Jerusalem and offer a red heifer or a bullock to worship God. Rather, go to Christ and thank Him. Tell Him that it is because of God that you forgive people when they are bad. It is because of God that you are kind and generous. It is because of God that you have a mouth, a pair of eyes, two legs, and two feet and are able to do so much every day. Tell Him that it is because of God that you have a job, a family, and friends.

Every day we wake up with many gifts from God like the ten lepers who were cured. With all these blessings, we have many options. But not all options are equal. There is one option that is better than all the others and that is the one which the Samaritan chose when he received something special from God. It was the Samaritans who were concerned about the proper place for worship, and it is now a Samaritan who finds the best place of worship, by going to Jesus, his healer. The best place to pray is to go to God and tell him that He is a part of your life and your story. God will be very pleased to hear that.

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