Dt. 30:10-14; Ps. 69; Col. 1:15-20; Lk. 10:25-37
(Audio recorded live, 10 July 2022)
Today’s Gospel recounts for us the story of the Good Samaritan. The story provides a fascinating social commentary as it seeks to answer the question: Who is my neighbor? There are four primary characters: A man, a priest, a Levite, and the Samaritan. The man is on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. This is significant because Jerusalem represents the Garden of Eden and Jericho represents the Fall of Adam. It is part of the reason why the man is going “down” from Jerusalem to Jerico. Of course, geographically, Jerusalem is on a hill, therefore, anyone leaving Jerusalem is going down hill, but it is hard not to get the impression that the man in the story has fallen from grace. The fact that he was beaten by robbers and left for dead is evidence of this falling. But, he is not the only one who appears to be fallen. The first passer by is a priest who passed on the opposite side, basically ignoring the man. In the priest’s mind, he thinks he is following the Law. Were he to help the man, he would himself be defiled, which would then require him to offer sacrifice to be purified. It would seem, this priest has taken the easy way out by ignoring the man in need. Next, the Levite does the same thing. Both are observing the Law to their own benefit, but to the detriment of the man. Remember, we are trying to answer the question: Who is my neighbor? Sadly, two men from the most prominent classes of people are unable to answer the question. The last traveler to come upon the man is the Samaritan. The Jews and the Samaritans were basically enemies. We read in John’s Gospel that Jews and Samaritans share nothing in common (see Jn. 4:9). Yet, this Samaritan sees the man half-dead and cares for him. Who was the man’s neighbor? The answer is clear.
So, what about us? If we were to put ourselves in a similar circumstance, which of the characters would we be? The priest, the Levite, or the Samaritan? I think most of us would identify with the Samaritan because we can appreciate the teaching of this story, but if we were to be honest, there may have been times when we acted like the priest or the Levite. So, may our hearing of this story today help us to renew our commitment to acknowledge the dignity of others as we would Christ. Jesus says, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matt. 25:40).
We have all been called to keep God’s Commandments as Moses has enjoined on the people, but never to forget the commandment of love. As Moses says, “it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out.”
And so, as we approach the altar to receive the love of God outpoured in the Eucharist, may our hearts be filled with his love as we seek to recognize our neighbor in all whom we encounter. And may the love we receive here overflow to those around us, especially those most in need.