The good Samaritan

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Luke 10:25 Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” 27 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.” 28 And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.” 29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

An injured man is laying bleeding in the road and two important Jewish people, a priest and a Levite, both pass him by without helping him. These would have been pious people, making a point to show up at the temple on holy days, tithe their income, fast once a week, and so on. Today they would be considered good church people. However, their hearts were cold to the man in need. Not good. Then came a Samaritan.

Samaritans were considered people “on the wrong side of the tracks” so to speak. Yet it was this second-class person who showed compassion for the injured man – even though he would most certainly not have performed the same religious acts as the priest and Levite. Jesus’ point?

Piety means little if our hearts do not reflect God’s love for people.

I’m afraid too often I’m more like the priest or Levite than the Samaritan. I can get caught up in my own little corner of suburbia and tune out the pain in the world around me. Especially now when there’s so much pain and violence. Perhaps it’s to protect myself, but that’s not a justification. I wonder where Jesus is challenging me to show mercy and compassion today. What about you?

Lord Jesus, we don’t want to be religious people who care little for the suffering of others, yet it’s easy to be just that. Give us grace to be sensitive to those in our midst who are hurting and in need. Amen.

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