Ordinary Time: Proper 10

The Good Samaritan by Michelle L Hofer — mixed media ink drawing with Swarovski crystal on hardboard, 2012.

July 10, 2022 Lectionary Texts — Year C
Amos 7:7-17 and Psalm 82 • Deuteronomy 30:9-14 and Psalm 25:1-10 • Colossians 1:1-14 • Luke 10:25-37

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This is what he showed me: the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand. And the Lord said to me, “Amos, what do you see?”
And I said, “A plumb line.”
Then the Lord said, “See, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel; I will never again pass them by…”
— Amos 7:7-8

Image description: Jesus, dressed in a long flowing robe and sandals, is seen leaning over a gaunt man who is lying on the ground and wearing only a short tunic around his waist. The man rests his head on a rock and has multiple bandages on his arms and legs. He looks up at Jesus who is holding his hand and pouring balm (accented by Swarovski crystals) from a pitcher into an open wound on the man’s arm. A blooming flower is seen in the background.

Commission work for me as an artist has always been a real challenge. Years ago, my local hospital foundation asked if I would create a piece of art around the theme of healing. I chose the Christian icon of the Good Samaritan where Jesus is placed in the role of finding, helping, and healing the person who had been robbed and beaten at the side of the road. While I was pleased with my completed art piece, it did not resonate with the audience attending the annual hospital gala where it was being auctioned. The foundation director bid and won the piece at a price well under what I was hoping it would bring.

Later, the director told me how she herself didn’t connect with the style of the piece (the forms and style of icons are often lost on Protestant and Anabaptist Christians who are unfamiliar with them). I got the impression she bid on my art because no one else would. I was disappointed. I felt as if my art piece was a bit like the man laying by the side of the road with everyone awkwardly walking past.

One of the messages for me in this image and the story of the Good Samaritan is this: learn to love what appears unlovable. I often think this is an important concept in viewing art, especially when that art is not something we automatically find pleasing. Embracing the awkwardness or discomfort rising in us has the power to grow and stretch and even bless.

It’s been years since I have viewed this particular art piece in my portfolio. I have enjoyed reconnecting with it, and I am still pleased with the finished piece. Meditating on it once again has allowed me to remember and hold with compassion the experience of creating something that did not suit its audience.

Practicing Visio Divina:

  1. View the artwork
    What do you see?

    Note shapes – color – style – movement
    What stands out for you?
    What are you curious about?
    What questions do you have?
    Hold back any feelings – judgments – opinions
  2. Read the accompanying scripture and look over the artwork again
    What connections do you make?

    Between the image and text?
    What is coming to mind from your own experience?
    What feelings are rising in you?
    Are you uncomfortable with something?
    There are no right or wrong answers
  3. Read the scripture again and explore the artwork a third time
    What do you hear?

    What is God saying to you?
    What do you wish to speak to God?
    What blessing or prayer is rising in you?

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