Then a teacher of the Law came and began putting Jesus to the test. And he said, “Master, what shall I do to receive eternal life?” Jesus replied, “What is written in the Scripture? How do you understand it?” The man answered, “It is written: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind. And you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus replied, “What a good answer! Do this and you shall live.” The man wanted to justify his questions, so he replied, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus then said, “There was a man going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him, beat him and went off leaving him half-dead.
It happened that a priest was going along that road and saw the man, but passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite saw the man and passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, too, was going that way, and when he came upon the man, he was moved with compassion. He went over to him and cleaned his wounds with oil and wine and wrapped them with bandages. Then he put him on his own mount and brought him to an inn where he took care of him.
The next day he had to set off, but he gave two silver coins to the innkeeper and told him: ‘Take care of him and whatever you spend on him, I will repay when I come back.’”
Jesus then asked, “Which of these three, do you think, made himself neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The teacher of the Law answered, “the one who had mercy on him.” And Jesus said, “Go then and do the same.”
Any time I see a poor person lying down in distress and misery on the streets, I instinctively think of the parable of the Good Samaritan. As usual, Jesus chooses the precise details to strike at the heart of the audience, and especially the teacher of the Law who asked him about the neighbor. Everybody knew the road from Jerusalem to Jericho with its curbs and the dangers of bandits. The wounded man is an absolutely innocent victim. He is alone and abandoned, unable to help himself. He is “half-dead.” In this story, Jesus places a Priest and a Levite, both from the special tribe at the service of the worship. Both pass on the other side. They avoid being contaminated by the poor man. Instead, a Samaritan who belongs to the despised neighbors and are considered heretics by Jews, is moved with compassion. The Lord describes all the possible details: the Samaritan treated the poor man’s wounds with oil and wine, wrapped those with bandages, put him on his own mount, brought him to an inn, paid for him to the innkeeper and promised to repay upon coming back.
Who of us has done something similar even just once? Do we love our neighbor?
Jesus, Good Samaritan of the humankind, be our strength and our model.
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