Have you ever thought about the road from Jerusalem to Jericho? You know, the one Jesus mentions in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37)? Here’s how that story starts: Jesus says, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead.”
Jericho was a bustling center of trade and tourism about 18 miles from Jerusalem. Herod the Great had his winter palace there, and the flourishing oasis of Jericho was important for merchants. And, of course, hundreds of thousands of Jewish pilgrims made their way to Jerusalem three times a year using this road. Robbers found easy prey among the slow-moving caravans and crowds of pilgrims, and easy getaways into rough country. The Romans, recognizing the importance of the route, had sentry posts every few miles along the road even in Jesus’ time.
The way people act in the story, those sentry posts didn’t seem to be much help. It seems that travelers to Jericho could pretty much expect robbers, and they could pretty much expect to come across some poor crime victim bleeding on the side of the road. Violence on the road was that common–and that’s just the way it was, for years and years.
We have been through this
I thought of the road to Jericho as I tried to get my head and heart around yet another mass killing in our country. We have been through this time and again, over and over. Just as robbers with clubs preyed on travelers as they went about their business between Jericho and Jerusalem, so do killers with guns prey on us as we go about our business in schools, churches, nightclubs, concerts, and movie theaters.
Do we have to accept this as just the way things are? Or can we do anything about it? Do we want to do anything about it? How bad does it have to get before we want to do something about it? What can we do? What can we do? What can we do now?
Women of the ELCA offers a resource in both English and Spanish on this very topic. Rachel’s Day has been observed early in May for many years, but we can start talking and praying and acting to change things now. Let this be a beginning.
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