The Complete Samaritan
CHRIST & NEIGHBOR
People say that religion is making another comeback. But what kind of a comeback? And what kind of religion?
For example, is it the kind of religion that limits itself to our personal relationship with God and the performance of certain formal religious duties?
If it goes farther and insists on “love of neighbor,” what kind of love is meant? Is it a purely personal kindness to individuals? And which individuals?
Jesus gave us one answer in the parable of the Good Samaritan. When the lawyer asked him, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus told the story of the Samaritan who had compassion on the man who, on the road to Jericho, “fell among robbers who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead” (Lk. 10:25-37). At the end Jesus says to the lawyer, “Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?”
Of course the lawyer has to say, “The one who showed mercy on him.” Note that he does not say, “The Samaritan.” This was probably because the Samaritans were so despised by the Jews that it was too painful for him to state explicitly that it was a Samaritan who put to shame the behavior of the Jewish priest and the pious Levite who had passed by.
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