The Road To Jericho – The lectionary text this past Sunday on a Priest, a Levite and a Samaritan could not have come at a better time. A man goes down from Jerusalem to Jericho. Now the road to Jericho is a 17 mile road that drops 3600 feet and winds and turns as you descend. Historically the road is often frequented by robbers and to travel in any direction by oneself was done at great risk. While the story doesn’t tell us why the man was making the journey, it really doesn’t matter, we know one reason Jesus tells this parable is to answer the question about who is our neighbor. But in light of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and the other 134 African Americans, who fell into the hands of police and died in the past six months – the violence in this parable is what stands out for me the most. Additionally, several other things stand out. First, this question of “who is my neighbor” is is being asked by a lawyer, someone who has studied the Law of Moses and set apart to serve God’s people. Second, two of the three, the priest and the Levite also set apart to serve God’s people, are those whom we would expect at the very least to stop for the neighbor who was left for dead at the side of the road, but instead do nothing and in doing nothing helps to perpetuate the violence.
Those with the means to pick and chose their neighbors have the privilege to look for a place to live they believe is safe. But not everybody has that luxury. To survive they often take these roads to Jericho. Today, these roads both long and short are taken at our own risk. These are the roads between the places where a living is made, a person buys their groceries to get better prices, or even where one has traveled for vacation or simply to visit a friend and the places they call home. These are the roads that travel through varying neighborhoods of people of color and dominantly white neighborhoods as well. In other words every road is potentially a road to Jericho. If one has ever been stopped, frisked or followed (even into their own neighborhood as I have), you’ve been on that road. It doesn’t seem to matter where you are. Yet the road itself is not the issue nor the problem. Everyone has the right to travel that road to make a living, get better prices or visit a friend, with a reasonable expectation that they will reach their destination safely, without provocation and without worrying about whether someone (especially someone of authority), is lying in wait to rob, steal, maim or abuse their dignity as a human being. (to be continued)