And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read?” And he answered, “You shall 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.” And he said to him, “You have answered right; do this, and you will live.” But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, `Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed mercy on him.” And Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10: 25-37)
The parable of the Good Samaritan is well known to every Christian. So well known that the phrase itself has worked itself into the vernacular . . . if someone helps another in distress, the phrase Good Samaritan is often used.
So, you already know the story. Why bother to read on? Because too often we don’t stop long enough to ponder its meaning as well as its effect on us.
The answer lies in the fact that when we read this parable, we put ourselves in the role of the Samaritan. After all, Jesus did say “Go and DO likewise.”
But what if we were the victim – beaten and left by the side of the road to die? Look at it from this perspective with me.
As the victim, you and I would want a person full of love and compassion to stop and tend to us. We would probably pray that someone would come by. We would forever treasure that person and extol his/her virtues.
The fact is that someone already has. Someone has already come into our lives and promised to be there for us, forever compassionate and forever giving love.
This is what Jesus did to us, drawing close to us when we were dying, left in a ditch, mugged by the evil one, left for dead. He bound our wounds, carried us on his shoulders, poured his precious blood into us, brought us to the inn of the Church and promised to repay everyone who is kind to us at his second coming. And He wants us to follow him in loving like this.
Jesus not only taught God’s way of love, he also showed how far God was willing to go to share in our suffering and to restore us to wholeness of life and happiness.
His death brought us freedom from slavery to sin and the promise of everlasting life. He willingly shared in our suffering to bring us to the source of true healing and freedom from sin and oppression. True compassion not only empathizes with the one who is in pain, but takes that pain on oneself in order to bring freedom and restoration.
Jesus wants us to grasp that the most important thing we need to do, the greatest way we can serve him, is by loving God with all we’ve got and loving our neighbor, the concrete neighbor in need whom we encounter each day. Loving that neighbor in deeds is what he wants. Loving that neighbor even if we do not agree with him or her.
If we truly DID that, we would not be living in a world that is do indifferent, so divided, so at odds with one another.
We need to care, as God does. We need to love as God does.
The Kingdom of God that Jesus Christ came to establish is a Kingdom of Good Samaritans, in which we recognize we’re our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, and readily — not just out of duty but out of genuine, sincere neighborly love — tend to the wounds. If we were that, then being the victim would change. We would be surrounded by people who loved us and sought to help us.
The more we ponder Jesus’ own wounds in his sacred humanity, the more straightforward this becomes. When we ponder with faith and real love Jesus’ suffering, when we see his scourge marks, when we look at the nail marks and his bleeding head and bloody eyes, we become Veronicas and Simons of Cyrene.
Then we’re able to see Christ in the distressing disguise of those who likewise are beaten down by the world, who are hungry, thirsty, naked, a stranger, ill, imprisoned or otherwise in need (Mt 25:31-46). And we draw near to care for the One who drew near to care for us.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, may your love always be the foundation of my life. Free me from every fear and selfish-concern that I may freely give myself in loving service to others, even to the point of laying my life down for their sake.”
Jesus truly identified with our plight, and he took the burden of our sinful condition upon himself. He showed us the depths of God’s love and compassion, by sharing in our suffering and by offering his life as an atoning sacrifice for our sins upon the cross. His suffering is redemptive because it brings us healing and restoration and the fulness of eternal life. God offers us true freedom from every form of oppression, sin, and suffering. And that way is through the cross of Jesus Christ. Are you ready to embrace the cross of Christ, to suffer for his sake, and to lay down your life out of love for your neighbor?