“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
There are two stories in this Bible passage: the parable about the man beaten by robbers, and the story about Jesus and the expert in the law. The main question from the legal expert was “Who is my neighbor?” And the main question from Jesus was “In this story, who was being a neighbor?”
Without saying it was the Samaritan, the legal expert admitted that the neighbor was the one who showed mercy. The Samaritan showed mercy to the beaten man in at least three ways:
He opened his heart. “When he saw him, he took pity on him.” The traveler saw a fellow human in need, and he cared. The injured man’s life mattered.
He opened his schedule. “He went to him and bandaged his wounds. . . .” He set aside his own plans to help his neighbor, to the point of getting blood on his hands.
He opened his wallet. Bringing the injured man to a safe place, the Samaritan paid for his care and even said he would pay later for additional care that might be needed.
Of course, in this story the priest and the Levite did not look good. They knew what to do, and they failed to act. We need to admit that there is some part of the “priest and Levite” in most of us. How often do we see people in need and conveniently look the other way?
Dear Jesus, you call us to open our hearts and lives to our neighbors, and especially to those in need. Forgive us when we fail. Help us to love as you love us. Amen. (AM)