You may be familiar with the Parable of the Good Samaritan. In my church today’s Gospel tells of a scholar of the law asked Jesus what he should do to inherit eternal life. Jesus asked him what was written in the law.
The scholar replied, “You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart,
with all your being, (soul)
with all your strength, (body)
and with all your mind,
and love your neighbor as yourself.”
As good Jews they both would have been taught that “your neighbor” refers to all other Jews regardless of where they lived, not just the person next door. The scholar then asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
That is when Jesus told him the Parable of the Good Samaritan. As you probably remember, a man was attacked by robbers and was lying in the road. First a priest, then a Levite passed by him on the other side of the road. But a Samaritan cleaned his wounds with oil, sanitized with wine and bandaged him up. He also took him to an inn and paid the innkeeper to look after him. He even promised to pay more on his return journey.
The Jews hated the Samaritans for hundreds of years because they didn’t agree that they had to worship God in Jerusalem.
When Jesus asked the scholar which of the three men had been a neighbor to the wounded man he replied, “The one who treated him with mercy.”
Some questions for you
1. Why did the scholar ask Jesus “Who is my neighbor?”
a) Because he wanted Jesus to reaffirm that it was ok to only be kind to Jews,
b) He was thinking that “neighbor” might refer to all people.
2. Why did the scholar not reply “The Samaritan who treated him with mercy”?
a) Because he hated Samaritans so much he couldn’t even say the word,
b) Because he was a man who saw all people as equal so he didn’t want to label the good neighbor by where he came from.
3. What would you do if you saw a beaten up man lying by the side of the road?
a) Pass by on the other side of the road,
b) Help him.
4. What can you learn about yourself from your answers?