(Photo illustration by Phil Younk)

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Based on the Gospel of Luke, 10: 25 – 37
Our neighbor is anyone who needs us

Have you ever heard someone described as a Good Samaritan? Someone who helps a person in need is called a Good Samaritan.

In this Sunday’s Gospel, an expert in Jewish law asks Jesus how he can gain eternal life. He answers his own question by saying love of God and love of neighbor is the great commandment. Then he asks Jesus another question, “Who is my neighbor?”

Jesus responds by telling a parable (story with a lesson) about a man who was robbed, stripped of his clothes, brutally beaten, and left for dead on the side of the dangerous road leading from Jerusalem to Jericho. The man was obviously in great pain but ignored by passersby. The people who ignored him were the ones you’d expect to offer help. Two religious leaders from the man’s village simply passed by the man and didn’t stop to help him.

Along came the Samaritan. Now Samaritans and Jews fiercely disliked each other. Yet, it is the Samaritan who felt pity for the injured man, cared for his wounds, lifted him on his own animal and took him to an inn to be given care. In addition, he paid the innkeeper to continue caring for the wounded man and said he would also pay for any additional expenses.

Jesus then asks the law expert, “Who was neighbor to the wounded man?” His answer: “The Samaritan who treated the wounded man with mercy.” Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.”

Jesus’ lesson for us: All human beings deserve our care and affection.

Our neighborliness has nothing to do with where we live, family background, ethnic origins or religious affiliation, but is shown in our attitude toward others. Our neighbor is anyone who needs us.

As Jesus’ followers, our question should not be, “Who is my neighbor?” but rather “How can I help?”

There’s another side to this parable – Jesus as the Good Samaritan. Because of original sin and our own sins we have been wounded and are in need of help and healing. Jesus heals us by means of his sacraments and grace which he provided by his death on Calvary and commissioned the church to administer to us, to watch over and guide us until he returns to lead us safely to our heavenly home.

Thank you, Jesus, for your love and care.