A man went to see his doctor because he was suffering from a miserable cold. His doctor prescribed some pills, but they didn’t help.
On his next visit the doctor gave him a shot, but that didn’t do any good.
On his third visit the doctor told the man, “Go home and take a hot bath. As soon as you finish bathing throw open all the windows and stand in the draft.”
“But doc,” protested the patient, “if I do that, I’ll get pneumonia.”
“I know,” said the doctor, “I can cure pneumonia.”
Yes, this is very similar to the joke about the mathematician applying for a job as a fireman. And there is something strikingly familiar about the text today. Jesus is the Good Samaritan. The religious folk do not simply ignore the man in the ditch, they forbid her healing. This reading does not simply invite us to consider who our neighbor is, but who we are, and it raises the stakes on good, praying, church going folks who believe that that piety is sufficient.
This is not an easy message to hear, and we must be careful. I once preached this as a monologue as delivered by Andy Griffith. If you know Andy well, you may not be reading this for the purpose of finding humor and thought for you Sunday preparations. Andy is from my childhood. An excerpt:
Anybody like Andy Griffith. Best television show ever.
Floyd, you won’t believe who came to church on Sunday! Sally Mae Jones Smith. We hadn’t seen her for eighteen years! Oh my gosh, she looked old. She was so stooped over … All those years of picking up socks, and magazines, and doing dishes. But there she was. Last we saw her, she was jumping up and down when the last of hers graduated.
Then the guest preacher, he just stops, right in the middle of the Joys and Concerns and he says, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” Sally was jumping up and down. Makes you wonder if it won’t be another eighteen years before we see her again.
Then the Pastor gets all agitated. It seems he doesn’t like anybody horning in on his turf. He says, now look here. I sit in this office all week and don’t see a soul. I could have healed her on Monday; I could have healed her on Tuesday. I could have healed her on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. And if she had called me up and asked me to come see her, I could have healed her on Saturday, but Sunday is the Lord’s Day, or don’t you read your Bible. Sunday is the Lord’s Day. Thou shalt not work on Sunday. And healing people is work.
But I got to tell you, if healing people is work, I don’t think Pastor has worked a day in his life, because he has been here six years, and he hain’t cured nobody. So I guess he was all defensive and all. But you know. Now that I get to thinking on it, there have been a lot of folks cured of stuff. It just weren’t particularly Pastor who done it.
Well, the guest preacher, he got huffy too. He says, You Hypocrite. You Hypocrite.
Why do preachers have to use all them big words? But we all know what a hypocrite is, don’t we. It’s all of those tee-totaling Baptists having a high old time when they get over to Mt. Pilot. I don’t think Pastor took kindly to being compared to one of them. He will sit right there with you in your living room and have a beer and watch a game, just like anybody except the Baptists who have to go over to Mt. Pilot and sit in a hotel room to watch the game.
So, do you really want to tackle hypocrisy?
Miroslav Volf is quoted as saying, “There is something deeply hypocritical about praying for a problem you are unwilling to resolve.”And he is being quoted widely in connection with the gun crisis in the United States.
Andy Griffith would have pointed out that even Barney Fife carried a gun. He even carried a bullet. Of course, Barney kept his bullet in his pocket.
Have a great week. May you find and be healing. – Laurin