“Who is my neighbor?” Example of the Good Samaritan
“Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“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.”
“And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:25-29)
Today’s Gospel begins with a question from a scholar of the law regarding how to inherit eternal life. The answer is the two commands of Love: (1)Love God above all else and with one’s entire being and (2)Love your neighbor as yourself. This the scholar of the Old Testament law knew and the Lord told him that he answered correctly. However, the man didn’t stop there. Seeking to justify himself, he then says to Jesus: Who is my neighbor?
The Lord answers this question by narrating a story. A man is victimized. He falls victim to robbers who stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. Three persons happened to be travelling down the same road. The first two are a priest and a Levite. They are both educated and aware of the Old Testament law. However, they both see the victim, but pass by on the opposite side. The next to travel down that path is a Samaritan who stops and is moved with compassion. Unlike the two, the Samaritan compassionately approaches the victim and begins to tend to his needs. The Samaritan pours oil and wine over the wounds and then transports the victim by means of his animal to an inn. The Samaritan continues to care for the injured victim.
The Samaritan the next day continues in his travels, but not without first giving the innkeeper two silver coins 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.’
Indeed, imagine what a world this would be if it was filled with many Good Samaritans. People would recognize the worth of each and every human being. We are all children of God Made in the image and likeness of God. More people would be self-giving rather than selfish or self-centered with no or little concern for others. There would be a greater sensitivity to the needs of others. Our love for God Whom we don’t see would become apparent because we show love to our neighbor whom we do see.
Jesus after narrating the story then poses the question back to the scholar of the Old Testament law: “Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” The scholar replied with the obvious answer: “The one who treated him with mercy (compassion).”
Jesus then instruct him and us today: “Go and do likewise.” The Church continues the ministry of healing and redemption of souls. Thew Church instructs Her faithful to perform the corporal and spiritual works of mercy throughout the year, but most especially during the liturgical seasons of Pylipivka (Philip’s Fast) and the Great Fast (Lent). It is by showing compassion to others that we develop and grow to full maturity in Christ. It is especially important that we compassionately deal with those who fall victim to injustices or to the loss of health, property, dignity, livelihood or one’s good name. Such victims experience a sense of “being violated.” There is a need to help restore one’s trust in the goodness of humanity and one’s self-esteem. May we be a Good Samaritan to those in need.
Rev. D. George Worschak