The Good Samaritan

Luke 10:25-37
Jon 1:1—2:1-2,11 / Jon 2:2-8

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.
(Luke 10:27)

If you seek to be His disciple,
To follow His teaching faithfully,
Jesus has shown us His example:
Be perfect and love your enemy.

There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replied, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” He answered, “‘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.’ ” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came to where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and on my I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:25-37)

Reflection

It is only in the Gospel of Luke that we find the parable of the Good Samaritan, and it is to emphasize a point that the writer placed this account in his Gospel right after Jesus gave praise to the Father (in His disciples’ hearing), saying, “you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned (referring to the scholars of the law), and revealed them to the childlike” (Lk.10:21). As if on cue, a scholar of the law (a scribe) came up to test Jesus, and show everyone his expertise and knowledge of the Jewish Torah. His correct answer when Jesus in turn also tested him (“What is written in the law?”) betrayed his false search for the truth when he asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” In the end, the scholar’s proud estimation of himself only proved how little he knew about the true meaning of loving one’s neighbor. For as Jesus said at another time, “Love your enemies… For if you love (only) those who love you, what recompense will you have?” (Mt.5:44,46)

Being knowledgeable about the law, the scholar most likely knew the commandment of God through Moses, which stated, “The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt.” (Lev. 19:34). Put in a tight spot, he tried to “justify himself” by asking, “And who is my neighbor?” In answer, Jesus gave this beautiful parable to show the universality of God’s love, the true essence of love in Leviticus, and how the Jewish Torah had distorted it by its wrong applications. For instance, it taught that “Whoever touches a human corpse will be unclean for seven days. They must purify themselves with water on the third day and on the seventh day; then they will be clean. But if they do not purify themselves on the third and seventh days, they will not be clean.” (Num.19:11-12) This was probably the lame excuse that the priest and the Levite used in order to avoid helping the robber’s victim. They both passed on the other side of the road so that they could assume that the man was already dead, and would therefore render them “unclean”. By upholding a man-made law, they violated God’s law of love. This again affirmed our Lord’s words that the essential things are hidden from the learned and the wise (the privileged), but revealed to the least important and the alien (the Samaritan).

The law of love as handed down by God to Moses, and elucidated by our Lord Jesus in the Parable of the Good Samaritan is an eternal principle that will never change. Until we learn to love our “enemies” (those who are different from us), there will never be true peace on earth, and God’s kingdom here will remain an unfulfilled promise.

John the apostle said, “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth” (1Jn 3:17-18). When those who have so much can share all that they can give (like the good Samaritan) to those who have so little in life, whether they are friend or foe, then true love will reign, and heaven will be on earth.

Father God, Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan convicts our selfishness, our pride, and our prejudice. May we “Go and do likewise,” whenever a situation requires acts of mercy. May Your compassion flow freely out of our hearts. Amen.

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