October 10 2010
October 9, 2010 by staff
October 10 2010, Last week I went to see the new movie “The Social Network.” It is a fascinating look at the creation of “Facebook” – the social networking site that began among a few people at Harvard and became a phenomenon, now reach half a billion lives worldwide.
One of the compelling elements of the story is how it all began – the reason the filmmakers give the reason why Facebook was started in the first place.
In the first scene, a Harvard undergraduate Mark Zuckerberg ends up being rejected by a girl on a date. You can understand why: he is really dumb. But revenge, and feel like a foreigner, he returned to his dorm and sat at his computer and proposes to create the ultimate “club” at Harvard – and succeeded beyond the wildest expectations anyone whatsoever.
Zuckerberg motivations in the film are the kind of us can recognize – but it is more than just a settling of scores or even blind ambition.
It all comes down to wanting to be accepted – our need to belong to something, our desire to love and be loved.
It is, for better or for worse, is part of our humanity.
Nobody wants to feel like a pariah.
Which brings me to 10 people met in the gospel of Jesus today.
They were the ultimate outcasts: the lepers. They lived quite apart from the others – the sick and disfigured. By law, they had to keep a certain distance from the rest of the world. They have kept their faces covered. Others may have nothing to do with them. In healing, Christ gave them more than just a miraculous cure. He offered them a new life. A new way of life. A life in community – able to walk freely in the city, to worship with others, eating with others, to be accepted and even, perhaps, to be loved. They could finally have a life they had long been denied because of their illness.
All this, in itself, is quite significant. But Luke throws in a single sentence that clearly indicates that this is just another miracle cure.
“And he was a Samaritan.”
The only one who went to Jesus, who fell before him and gave thanks, was the outcast among outcasts all, a figure double despised. A Samaritan.
It is important to remember that Luke was the only writer of the four gospels that were not Jewish. It was a non-Jew, probably Greek. Like the Samaritan, he was a foreigner himself. And again and again, he opened the gospel to a wider world.
The first chapters of Luke with the story of the Nativity bring people from around the world to Bethlehem – wise men, shepherds, angels, everyone. When tracing the genealogy of Christ, do not start with Luke Abraham, Matthew, but with Adam – the father of us all. And in his gospel, Luke takes care to write about all the people who are saved despised: tax collectors, prostitutes, the prodigal son, and the good thief. And, of course, it also gives us two famous Samaritan: the Good Samaritan and the man we met today healed Samaritan.
All these are people who could be considered aliens or outcasts – but they are the ones in the Gospel of Luke who repeatedly find healing and salvation, and hope.
Like the solitary figure in the Gospel of this Sunday.
The others who were miraculously healed went about their lives. But this Samaritan was not. He could not. He had to turn around and return to Christ and fall in front of him and give thanks.
But Christ has made clear he was more than a gesture that changes the life of this man.
“Your faith:” Jesus said, “you saved.”
Something stirred in the Samaritan’s heart, and he proposes to reverse the course back to where it began – healed, renewed, and redeemed. He was dismissed, but with a profound difference.
It was gratitude grounded in faith. Faith in something – and someone.
He understood that what mattered was not the gift … but he who gave it.
And as Luke makes clear again and again in his beautiful gospel: the gift is offered to all.
Each of us who stand outside the circle, who feel at one time or another rejected or expelled, or unloved.
Each of us who feel lonely or abandoned, hopeless or despairing.
Each of us who have felt bullied or betrayed.
Christ can make us all whole and healed.
Through the gift of his love and mercy, we no longer have to feel like lepers.
In the world of Facebook, the connection point is a “friend” someone – some people I know have thousands of Facebook friends, most of them they have never met.
I remember that old Protestant hymn proclaims. “What a friend I have in Jesus”
He is a friend we have all met – and one we will meet again in a few minutes. The great gift of communion will be joining us once again to him, and we reconvene as a body of believers united by faith, healed by the boundless love of Christ, redeemed by his sacrifice.
This is the ultimate “social network”, the largest in history.
This morning, we remind you that – and like the Samaritan, we will not only cherish the gift … but he who gave it.
Like the Samaritan woman, before we leave, let us return to the One who gave it – whisper our thanksgiving, praying in joyful hope that we too one day hear the words that changed the life of this Samaritan forever:
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