We have been “COVID Careful” in Queensland. We have been cautious about “going back too soon”, even keeping our borders closed when others complained at us. The people in our Lutheran Church communities have been especially careful and cautious in providing for the needs of the vulnerable amongst us.
Now the escalation of infections and deaths in Victoria is causing anxiety and unrest with the possibility of further restrictions in Queensland.
It is natural human behaviour to look inward and seek security when faced with threat.
Our Lord Jesus spoke particularly to this behaviour in his parable of the Good Samaritan in the Gospel of Luke. In the parable, we hear of a Priest and a Levite who “walk by on the other side of the road” to bypass a man beaten by robbers. These two characters are often portrayed as heartless self-centered men who ignore the needs of the man beaten up. But the role of the Priest and Levite in ancient Israel showed that their avoidance of the man was earnest religious behaviour, making sure that they were not compromised by coming into contact with the blood on the beaten man. In their minds they had good reasons for not helping.
The parable reveals how the Lord of mercy turns our eyes to an “outward focus” as he concludes with an acclamation of the Samaritan who helped the beaten man, and then says, “Go and do likewise.”
We have been diligent in turning our eyes to our local neighbours during this COVID-19 pandemic but as nations turn inwards with borders closed and focus on local containment, we have to work hard to extend our “outward focus” to neighbours across the seas.
Around the globe there is escalating infection and death, with some countries unable to provide the kind of tracing and testing that we have in Australia. We have some information about the struggles of those overseas but we must presume that there is much suffering on account of this pandemic, that we are not aware of.
The Lord of mercy who turns our eyes to an “outward focus”, has commanded his people to “go to all nations”. A good question for Christian people in countries like Australia, which have done so much to restrict the spread of this virus, is “How can I be a neighbour to those people across the seas?”
So firstly, we pray for our neighbours. As we pray we can take further action, such as to contact Australian Lutheran World Service and to ask how you can provide help to overseas medical service work. https://www.alws.org.au/
Jesus said, ‘Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’ The man replied, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’ (Luke 10)