1 Timothy 1:12-17
Recently, I was sorting through some corn we grew this year up at Emery House. I can’t tell you how much it has meant to me to watch this stuff grow all season. Br. James had started the seeds in little bio-degradable cups that Br. Keith and I put in the ground once they had sprouted. Then we watered and waited and those stalks got taller and like magic the ears of corn showed up. And then, one sabbath a few of us grabbed some of the prettiest corn I’ve ever seen and brought it in for lunch. It was magnificent. I was pretty excited to harvest the rest and bring it back for the rest of my brothers and our guests. So, I started shucking and let’s just say not all of those ears of corn were as pretty as the ones I had for lunch that day. Let’s call them “artisanal.” There were some pollination problems with some that left little holes where the kernels hadn’t developed, and some corn bores had gotten to others and eaten their way through the rows. It was a mixed lot.
The truth is most of them had perfectly fine kernels of corn on them but not all of them were exactly “table ready.” At first it was easy to keep the ones that looked good, and toss the ones that had hardly developed at all. Some of them just needed the ends cut off and they looked fine. But some I really struggled with. I might have been fine eating them but I’m not sure I’d set it in front of a guest. It would have been nice to have a strict standard by which to measure them, but my heart really wanted to salvage as much as I could.
Jesus is walking southward with his disciples to Jerusalem, a journey he would have made many times… but probably not on this particular route.[i] On this occasion they are walking from Nazareth – which is up north in the Galilee region – through the region of Samaria to get to Jerusalem. It’s 90 miles straight, following the hypotenuse of the triangle. However most Jews, walking from Galilee to Jerusalem, would set off east on a right angle, crossing over the Jordan River, then following the river southwards until cutting back westward over the river to go up to Jerusalem. This turned the 90-mile direct trek-on-foot into 120 miles; however it avoided Samaria.
Samaria was in the center of Palestine, 40 miles from north to south, and 35 miles from east to west. The Jews hated the Samaritans; the Samaritans hated the Jews. The Samaritans were colonists established by the Assyrians in the territory of Israel. The Samaritans claimed that they, too, were among God’s chosen people. But the Samaritans did not go up to Jerusalem to worship; they went up to Mount Gerizim in Samaria. There was “bad blood,” sometimes vitriol racism, between these two groups. Samaritans stayed amongst themselves. Jews taking a shortcut through Samaria were easy targets for hatred, sometimes for vindictive robbery.