“Who is my neighbor?” That is the question that an expert of the law asked Jesus (Luke 10:29). Jesus’ answer was the beautiful, but sad story that we all know as “The Good Samaritan”. The story is beautiful because it shows the willingness of a stranger to help a fellow human being in desperate need. The sad part is the attitude of the priest and the Levite, who were very important religious leaders, who avoided the man who was brutally attacked and left to die. Jesus is quoting a text from the book of Leviticus (Lev. 19:18). The word was understood as someone of the same family, a friend, or a partner. Jesus in this story expands the meaning of the word neighbor. For Him a neighbor is just someone close by. To love our neighbor in this case is to do something to help someone who is crossing our path.
We normally tend to see the neighbor in the same way that the religious leaders saw that man. I do not know him, so I do not care about him. If we could make a small shift in how we see our neighbor, this world would be much better. The first thing that we learn with that story is that the neighbor is the closest one, no matter if I know the person or not, if they believe in what I believe or not, if they look like me or not, whether if I like them or not. We need to understand that there is no “chance” in this world. If someone crosses our path, it is because God put them there.
The second thing that we learn from this story is that the need is real. This is how Jesus described the situation: “In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. Luke 10:30.” Today with all the scams and corruption, we have a hard time identifying those who really need our help. Because of that we end up feeling guilty when we say no. Jesus makes clear that the need was real and visible. The guy was “half dead”.
The third lesson that Jesus teaches us in this story is that when this kind of situation emerges, there are no friends or enemies. The need will overcome these definitions and barriers that culture and religion create in our lives. Jesus wanted the Jewish leaders to understand that what the Samaritan saw was a fellow man in need. This should be our attitude. Finally Jesus teaches us that we should do as much as we could to help our neighbor in need. That man gave his time, attention, energy, and money to take care of his neighbor. Jesus ended the conversation saying: “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:37.”
Have a blessed week,