by Bill Lizor
The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were famous for questioning and challenging Jesus and his ministry. In this story a scholar approaches Jesus wanting to know the way to eternal life. The scholar knows the intellectual answer, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” The scholar could have left well enough alone at that point, having articulated a good model for operating in God’s will. Instead, he questions Jesus again as a means of justifying his own actions. It isn’t enough to know the law; this man wants Jesus to say that the little he is doing is enough. The scholar wants the minimum requirement to be sufficient.
Jesus, however, turns things upside down by putting flesh onto that law through the story of the good Samaritan. It is one thing to hear words like “Love God” and “Love neighbor” but quite another to envision what that means. The scholar could easily see his peers and high religious leaders as neighbors, just as we can easily picture our friends and family. But Jesus has a different picture in mind. Essentially, Jesus says, picture the poor, the oppressed, the weak, and the beaten.
Jesus’ story exposes the polar standards at work in our world. The first two passersby, both important and highly influential individuals, turn a blind eye to the wounded neighbor. They have the power to help but turn away. On the other hand, the Samaritan operates with God’s standards at heart. He doesn’t just stop to see that the man is OK. He goes the extra mile, not leaving until the man’s every need has been met.
SUGGESTION FOR REFLECTION:
As you reflect on the story Jesus tells, think back on your own journey. When have you been the one who was hurt? When have you been the priest or the Levite? When have you been the Samaritan?