Oil, wine, and neighbors

Bible events and narratives provide rich guidance, sometimes in their smallest details. As one digs behind the words to find the inspired inner landscape of meaning, the Scriptures come alive with healing.

Consider Christ Jesus' parable of the good Samaritan. n1 A man was attacked by thieves and left injured by the side of the road. After others passed the man by, a Samaritan stopped. He "went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him."

n1 See Luke 10:25-37.

From whatever viewpoint one reads the story, he can gain valuable insight by reflecting on the spiritual significance of oil and wine. The two are threaded throughout the Bible and throw a special light on events in both Testaments. Mary Baker Eddy n2 in Science and Health With Key to the Scripturesm offers spiritual meanings for these terms that open wonderful vision and scope for prayer and study. "Oil. Consecration; charity; gentleness; prayer; heavenly inspiration." n3 "Wine. Inspiration; understanding . . . ." n4

n2 Mrs. Eddy is the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science;

n3 Science and Health,m p. 592;

n4 ibid.,m p. 598.

Consecration is a wholly selfless attitude requiring humility and purity. Consecrated prayer that recognizes the true nature of man to be spiritual -- the idea of God, made in His likeness -- is invaluable in enabling us truly to help those in trouble. When we begin to comprehend something to God's eternal omnipotence and love, His cherishing care and control, personal inadequacies cease to hinder us. They dissolve. True consecration inspires the selfless charity, or love, that expresses God's nature as divine Love. Because its source is divine, such consecration can only bless with great gentleness.

The tenderness of God's care is indicated many times in the Bible by the metaphor of a shepherd. Like the Way-shower, Christ Jesus, we can consider and practice shepherding qualities. We learn about them through prayer and study of the Bible's inspired word. The earnest desire to understand more of God and to be worthier, more effective Christians loosens bonds of selfish thinking; then we are prepared for the inspiration that is forever flowing from God to His immortal idea, man. It is this inspiration that feeds and nourishes the growing spiritual understanding and is a solid foundation for truly helpful action.

Healing qualities and divine inspiration are available to everyone. They are God's gift to us. It is good to claim them as our own and live them, for we never know when we may be called upon to be a Samaritan. Such Christlike qualities are the most precious resources we have to share and use. They are the most effective basis for helping others.

The parable of the Samaritan was in response to a lawyer's question, "Who is my neighbour?" In the story Jesus dispelled any assumption that our neighbor is necessarily someone we already know. Nowadays we might meet this neighbor through the newspaper, television, or radio. Is there any lack of opportunity for applying the spiritual qualities of oil and wine? I have found that since pondering this parable again, I have become more aware of the needs of friends and acquaintances. I have found ways to show the care I feel. Often today the thieves that would plunder and wound are loneliness, depression, a sense of isolation. It is important to heed the inner impulse to telephone or visit someone, for instance, and not be deflected by diffidence, busyness, or tiredness. These impulses to show we care are the oil and wine at work in our thinking and lives.

As we obey, and share the affection we feel, the understanding of God's tender love for all His children grows deeper and more assured because it is being proved. This proof strengthens the ability to pray for those in need across the world whom we will never meet, but care so much about. The smallest proofs of God's active love strengthen faith. We can begin with honesty and conviction to touch our neighbor with healing. DAILY BIBLE VERSE And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, . . . see thou hurt not the oil and the wine. Revelation 6:6

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