This Sunday the Gospel is one that is very familiar to us. It retells the parable of the Good Samaritan. Luke 10:25-37
The following background on the parable is provided by Loyola press (http://www.loyolapress.com/sunday-connection.htm) and helps us to understand some of the meaning of the world behind this familiar text.
The road from Jerusalem to Jericho descends 3,300 feet in just 17 miles. Its narrow passes and rocky terrain made it an easy place for bandits to wait for travelers. The traveler in this parable is identified only as “a certain man.” Luke uses this phrase in many of his parables so that the audience, Jew or Gentile, could identify with the man. After the attack, the man is left for dead, naked and bleeding on the side of the road. A priest comes along, but rather than helping, as one might expect, he moves to the other side of the road. Another religious person comes along, a Levite who assists in the Temple. His reaction is the same as the priest’s. Both of them choose to not even find out if the man is alive. A third person comes along. The listeners would probably expect him to be an Israelite. This would make the parable a criticism of the religious leadership. Instead he is a Samaritan, an Israelite’s most hated neighbor. Samaritans were descendants of Jews from the northern part of the country, who had intermarried with Gentiles and did not worship in Jerusalem. The Samaritan not only goes over to the injured man but cleans his wounds, puts him on his own animal, takes him to an inn to recover, and promises to pay all his expenses. The hated enemy is the compassionate neighbor in this parable.
Jesus has demolished all boundary expectations. It is not social definitions such as class, religion, gender, or ethnicity that determines who is our neighbor. A neighbor is a person who acts with compassion toward another.
The point becomes not who deserves to be loved as I love myself, but that I become a person who treats everyone with compassion.
It is easy to love those who love you but
- I wonder who was a neighbour to the robber….
- I wonder who was a neighbour to the priest….
- I wonder who was a neighbour to the Levite….
- I wonder who was a neighbour to the Samaritan…
Jesus challenges us in the parables to not just love those who are easy to love but to love everyone – even those who hurt us, who reject us, who murder, who commit acts of violence, who steal, who are racists, etc etc etc…