Today’s gospel from Luke 10 is well-known. It is the story of the Good Samaritan and his care for a wounded traveler. Jesus tells it in response to a scholar of the Jewish law who asks Jesus about inheriting eternal life. Jesus response invites us to love God and our neighbor. The lawyer, perhaps looking for finer points—or simply to show off—asks this question of the day for him, for others present, and for us as well.
A man is robbed and left for dead. Two religious leaders pass him by because the law says “Don’t Touch” or else you cannot worship in the Temple. But a Samaritan takes pity on him and cares for him. This is not a fellow Jew, but an enemy who cares for him. When Jesus asks who is “a neighbor,” the scholar of the law cannot say that only the scholar of the Law would treat him with mercy. “Go and do likewise,” Jesus says to him and to us.
Some months ago in Chicago, a man was knocked unconscious and fell into the street. People around did not help but robbed him instead. Then a cab ran over him and killed him. It was (and still is) a terrible day for humanity. None of us was there, but we are still invited can ask “who is my neighbor?” Is this person in my house, next door, down the street, on the train or bus, here or where? Some of the early Fathers of the Church saw Jesus as the Good Samaritan caring for wounded humanity. If we interpret the story in this manner, then it becomes very much a story of being Jesus’ disciple and accomplishing what “Jesus would do.”