Who is my neighbor? (Luke 10:29)
As much as we might fault this scribe for trying to test Jesus, it was a fair question. The specific command to love your neighbor as yourself appears only once in the Hebrew Bible: “Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against your own people. You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). So you can imagine the scribe wondering, Isn’t my neighbor only those of my own people?
Perhaps Jesus meant something more, as Scripture says a few verses later: “Treat the alien who resides with you no differently than the natives born among you; you shall love the alien as yourself” (Leviticus 19:34). But what about aliens who don’t live in my village? What about strangers or people I meet on the road?
That’s the beauty of Jesus’ parable. The victim in the story was a stranger, a man of unknown origin, lying bleeding in the no-man’s-land between Israel and Jericho. Should anyone have felt obligated to help him? Surely not the priest or the Levite! According to Mosaic law, anyone who touched a corpse or a bloody body would become ritually impure. How could they minister in the Temple then? Wasn’t that their highest priority? If they couldn’t carry out their ministry, they risked losing their incomes. Didn’t they owe it to their families to walk away?
Jesus had one simple answer: “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37). Follow the example of this “unclean” Samaritan. You might have to risk your comfort or your convenience. You might even risk rejection. But the man suffering before you is your neighbor. He is your brother, and he is worth saving.
Jesus is the ultimate good Samaritan, and we are the victim on the side of the road. He risked everything to save us. By becoming a bloodied, crucified corpse for us, he took on the defilement of our sin and made us clean. And in doing so, he has become “neighbor” to all of us.
May we go and do likewise.
Meditations 14 July 2019 ~ The Word Among Us
Every first and third Mondays of the month, we invite you and your family to come spend an hour of prayer in the Chapel at 8.00 pm. We pray for our universal Church and our parish. June sessions are as follows:
Monday, 1 July - 8.00 pm
Monday, 15 July - 8.00 pm
Let us come together and pray as a community. All are welcome.
“ Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against your own people. You shall love your neighbor as yourself ”
Ordination Date: 7 July 2001
Ordination Date: 25 February 1989
Ordination Date: 10 May 2014