In this passage from the Gospel of Luke the Lord teaches his disciples that the term “neighbor” applies to all people, regardless of race, color, religion or political view. Using the example of the Good Samaritan, Jesus reveals how we are called to respond with mercy toward all.
Three times in the Gospel today Jesus tells his disciples to be not afraid. Three times! The fact is, fear is a part of the landscape of our lives, and with God’s help we can face it with faith as we follow the Lord.
Matthew’s Gospel reminds us that we are called by the Lord to use all our resources of mind, heart and soul. Each of these aspects of our humanity fosters our growth as disciples as we offer our lives for the glory of God.
The story of Joseph in the Book of Genesis recounts the power of reconciliation within a family. Joseph chooses the higher path and overcomes hatred and discord as he returns compassion toward his brothers. His example inspires us to examine our own families and actively seek opportunities to foster peace.
The call of the twelve Apostles reveals the personal connection Jesus has with his disciples. Called by name (with their own unique strengths and weaknesses) the Lord will empower them to serve in his name. The Lord does the same for us!
Matthew’s Gospel shows how the Lord was moved with pity as he gazed on the people who were troubled and abandoned. The mercy of Christ consoles us to draw near to God with open hearts, even as it challenges us to look at one another (especially those who push our buttons!) with the love of the Lord.
The story of the Good Samaritan takes many of us back to our elementary school days of religious education. It’s worth taking a moment to examine the structure of the context within which the parable is located in chapter ten of Luke’s Gospel:
v. 25 – The lawyer’s question
v. 26 – Jesus’ counter-question
v. 27 – The lawyer’s response
v. 28 – Jesus’ imperative & command
v. 29 – The lawyer’s 2nd question
v. 30-36 – The Good Samaritan parable
v. 37a – The lawyer’s response
v. 38b – Jesus’ imperative & command
The first half of this passage pertains to the notion of eternal life and what we must do – loving God and one another. This is a recap of the two Great Commandments, and we all generally nod our heads in agreement at the lawyer’s answer.
The second half, however, pushes the question “Who is my neighbor?” as Jesus uses the parable to point out that all people – regardless of race, color, religion – are our neighbor. Remember: the Samaritan is not Jewish, yet fulfills the command of loving the neighbor!
The takeaway for us today happens on many levels:
Our words and actions define us – especially when we are in challenging situations.
Who are the people in my life that are difficult to love?
How might I take steps to love these “neighbors” God sets before me?
While there are many ways to demonstrate our love for the Lord, a clear example occurs when we act in kind and merciful ways toward one another. May see clearly our neighbors and respond to their needs with the love of Jesus Christ.