The Gospel according to Luke (10:25-37)
There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test Jesus and said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” He said in reply, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” He replied to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.”
But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise, a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds, and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn, and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.’ Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
REFLECTION: The Gospel today presents us with two great questions. First is how to inherit eternal life, which the scholar answers correctly when asked by Jesus. The second great question is, “And, who is my neighbor?” Jesus answers with the parable we are all familiar with, the Good Samaritan, who tends to the victim who was passed over by others and left on the side of the road to die. So, how would we respond to Jesus if we were asked the same questions?
But how would we define our “neighbor” if Jesus were to press us to answer, rather than to share the Good Samaritan parable? Would we, like the scholar, hope for a very narrow definition of neighbor? Could this neighbor be the person we always sit behind at Mass and chat with on the way out of church? Or would our neighbor include the unknown person who lives in “the rough part of town” or in the basement of our apartment building, or someone that is from another faith? Are they our neighbors too?
Through the parable Jesus reminds us that regardless of a person’s religion, race, creed or poverty level, or the marginalized, the voiceless, the hungry, the naked; they must be viewed as our neighbors and loved if we are truly seeking God’s salvation. And now for the task that is easier said than done. If we are going to love our neighbor, we cannot stay sheltered in our affluent zip codes but must venture out and see the disparities in our world that limit the freedoms and choices our neighbors are allowed to make each day.
When we see injury and pain, we must not cross to the other side of the road, but rather, act. For what good is it to call oneself a Christian if we are not willing to demonstrate our faith outside the walls of our church? And we must do our part, as painful as it might be, to urge our traditional neighbors to also see those less fortunate, not as addicts on the street or a lost generation unwilling to work, but as neighbors whom they must love in thought, word and deed. By sharing our financial resources and our most valuable asset, our time, we can demonstrate our true love and compassion for all of our neighbors.
ACTION OF THE DAY: Your mission is easy but is it really? Think about volunteering at that ministry you always considered or assisting that person who you see struggling all the time or buying a meal for someone in need that you drive by everyday … and the list goes on. Remember, it’s love and mercy that makes the world go around.