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.
When asked what is the most important commandment, Jesus responds by citing Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and Leviticus 19:18 and swiftly summarizes the life of faith by condensing the Ten Commandments down to two. As we take these two crucial commandments to heart may they guide every aspect of our lives each and every day.
Jesus teaches that love – of God and one another – is the greatest commandment. Why? Because we are called into relationship with the Lord and each other, and these relationships are nurtured, strengthened and guided by our willingness to love one another as God loves us.
“Love one another as I love you” is an awe-inspiring commandment. We cannot do this alone; rather, Jesus chooses us and appoints us to follow his example and bear the fruit of unconditional love in our hearts. As our friend, he gives us the grace and strength we need to walk in the light of his love.
The command to love requires that we understand our hearts and see the needs of those around us. As we draw upon the love of Jesus, may we pour out our lives with the abundance of divine love as we share our hearts with one another.