The Reading: Luke 10:29-37
“Who is my neighbour?” (v.29) RSV
“Who is my neighbour?” (v.29) asked the lawyer. His original question had been how to be sure he was going to inherit eternal life. Jesus recited the two great commandments (the first from Deuteronomy 6:5 and the second from Leviticus 19:18). The lawyer was anxious that he would be able to fulfil these two prerequisites (love the Lord and love your neighbour) for entrance into heaven.
He therefore wanted to verify that his understanding of the Jewish law was correct. His neighbour was surely limited to fellow Jews. Did not the Law command that one should hate one’s enemies (Matthew 5:43)? But Jesus was going to have none of it. His story of the Good Samaritan revealed that not only was anyone in need who came across our path our neighbour, but that the greater question was, are we being a good neighbour?
The story illustrated that the Priest and the Levite were too fearful or too busy to be moved by compassion. They both noticed the need of the beaten up man. The “man” (v.30), incidentally, was of no particular ethnicity or creed; he was simply a helpless victim. The story goes on to show that a Samaritan (neither Jew nor Gentile, but a half-caste) showed more natural compassion than God’s ‘chosen people’.
Jesus seemed less concerned with which group people belonged to, than whether the love of God was evidenced in their lives. It should have been taken for granted that God’s special and chosen people should have been the best exemplars of God’s love. Sadly then, as now, that is so often not the case.
The definition of ‘our neighbour’ from the story is someone whom we come across who is in need and whom we can help. This doesn’t include everybody who is in need, but it brings it down to the particular person whom God puts under our nose.
Lord, may I embrace each opportunity to show your love to those who need what I can give. Amen.
1 Who failed to help the person under his nose?
2 Who helped the Moabite, Ruth?