A lawyer asks Jesus “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Together they agree that the answer is found in Jewish law: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” But the lawyer is still unsatisfied. He asks Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”
Jesus proceeds to tell this lawyer the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). A man who is traveling is robbed, stripped, beaten, and left for dead. Three people pass him on the road: a priest, a Levite, and a Samaritan. It is the Samaritan, the outsider, who shows mercy, providing lavish care and kindness. Jesus concludes, “Go, and do likewise.”
Just as the lawyer asks, “Who is my neighbor?”, those of us who hear this story often ask who the characters are. Who, in our lives, is the robbed man, the person whom we have passed by on the road? Who, in our lives, is the Samaritan, the compassionate person whom we have misjudged?
The wisdom of the Samaritan is abundance in the face of need, mercy in the face of prejudice. If we love God with all that we are, God will help us to have compassion for others, no matter what stands between us. In this way, we will find healing, and the courage to serve and be served.
Holy Comforter, there is so much need inside and around us. Teach us to love you, and to receive your love, so that we might put your teachings into action, showing mercy for one another. Amen.