How far will this Love of God in Jesus go? How deep is this love? To what lengths and breadths and at what cost? Reckless. One definition of reckless is: marked by lack of proper caution : careless of consequences. Reckless Love. The song in the video above has been going through my mind ever since we sang it at camp last week. One of the speakers used it as a launch point for her faith share. The tune and lyrics became familiar.
This Sunday we hear a well known teaching of Jesus in the Parable of the Good Samaritan . Reckless. This well-loved parable is Jesus’ response to a lawyers testing of Jesus. The lawyer knows the pat answer to what the law says- loving God with everything- heart, soul, strength and mind and to love one’s neighbor as oneself’. And then the lawyer wants to justify or vindicate himself and get Jesus to narrow down who exactly a neighbor is. And Jesus gives this reckless, expansive answer.
Someone down in the ditch, stripped, robbed, beaten and left for dead needs care, comfort and consolation. Instead of looking away or passing by a neighbor reaches out, aids, provides for and goes the extra mile. Reckless. This is the love that Jesus wants his followers to practice- the love that crosses lines and boundaries and takes risks. It is exemplified in the parable not by the ones of status- a Levite or priest. The parable has a Samaritan as the example of the neighbor. Reckless.
At Confirmation Camp a week ago there was the opportunity to have an embodied experience of the challenges of hunger in our world. Each person was given a colored slip of paper upon entering the dining hall. The area was divided into quadrants. We were instructed upon entering to go and sit in the section of the color of our slip of paper. More than half of us were in the group who sat on the section of the floor covered with dirt and leaves. Another group sat on benches., A third group at a table set with plates and utensils. The fourth groups seated at a table with china and linens.
The group on the floor had a large pot of rice placed in one corner with spoons and bowls. There was water made to appear dirty (with safe to consume spices) and glasses. The folks on the benches had a large pot of rice and one of refried beans along with clean water. The third group at tables had chips, hamburgers and buns, fruit, and soft drinks. The small table set with china had waiters come and serve steak, baked potatoes, salad and cheesecake. The only instructions given were that there was to be no talking. And we waited. Adults were instructed ahead of time to let the campers lead.
Over the course of the hour statistics about hunger in the world, scripture and reflections were shared as each group sorted out what they would do. On Sunday I will share more in my sermon about this experience; both what was powerful and what was heart breaking. All week long as I have reflected upon that Hunger Meal experience and the parable of the Good Samaritan the Reckless Love song has been the soundtrack. I have recalled similar experiences with youth and hunger awareness over the past four decades.
Part of my heart break and sorrow on that Wednesday at camp was the awareness that in these times we are so very disconnected from one another and maybe also ourselves. To love God with heart, soul, strength and mind and to love our neighbors as ourselves seems to be even more reckless now. The fear, the polarization, the isolation of our current times was embodied in that meal.
A few days after returning from camp I pulled out a journal. It was from 1984- a notebook which was reflections on the semester I studied in Cuernavaca, Mexico. My twenty-two year old self was struggling to process the inequity I saw first hand. No longer were hunger, poverty, and domestic violence concepts they were the experiences of people I met. Writing out my fears and my hopes, my prayers and my awarenesses helped me process what I was seeing and hearing and the embodied learning.
Someone posted this question while reflecting of the the parable of the Good Samaritan: did the one who was willing to cross over and help out the one left on the roadside, in this case the Samaritan, know what it was like to be left for dead, robbed, beaten, abandoned? “Throwing caution to the wind” was the parable sharing how the reckless love of the Samaritan was the embodiment of the Commandment to love God with everything we are and all that we have and to love our neighbors as ourselves?
Reckless love implies for me a willingness to cross lines, put aside fears and practice a way of being so fully present to what is happening in the moment that my mind which often can second guess, justify, and rationalize gets put on the back burner. This reckless love that “leaves the 99” Jesus embodied. At the end of the parable Jesus instructs the lawyer to “go and do likewise”. These are words for our time now; go and do likewise. Cross the road, be unafraid of the pain and hurt of another, let in the reckless love of God and then go and do likewise.