Jesus cites two passages of the Old Testament to teach what are the Great Commandments of loving God and Neighbor. As we put this love into practice, we will be drawn into an ever-increasing dynamic of communion, forgiveness and service.
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.