When the days drew near for Jesus to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, "Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?" But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village.
There was deep religious hatred between the Jews and the Samaritans. The Samaritans were heretics in the eyes of the Jews, and their region a melting-pot of different cults and customs, and Jews despised Samaria as a blot on their country.
It was a very inconveniently situated blot: right in the middle. So when Jews wanted to travel between Galilee in the north and Judea in the south, they either had to pass through Samaria or to skirt it. Things could be unpleasant for them if they passed through, but the journey was twice as long if they went around.
Doesn't everyone have a Samaria right in the middle of his or her life? It is the part of your life that is a mess: where you are at your very weakest and worst, where your thoughts and motives are all mixed up and unclear, where you have never had peace and hardly dare to hope for it.
But Jesus went right into Samaria; and many of the heroes and heroines of his stories were Samaritans: the one leper, the Good Samaritan, the Samaritan woman. There is hope for us all.
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