But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 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. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 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. 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.’ Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise ".Luke 10:29-37
I recall as a young child going on a family vacation my family stopped to eat lunch at a restaurant. This was a real treat for us because my parents did not often have a lot of expendable cash for luxuries such as eating out, especially since we were a large family. From our booth, I watched my father place our order. As he was standing at the counter, an old man walked in. The old mans hair was gray; his face bore the deep creases of someone who had lived a hard life. His clothes were dirty and hung from his thin frame. I don’t recall what his shoes looked like, his pants were so big
they covered his feet. In fact, he may not have been wearing any shoes. I do recall he walked with a shuffle. Never really picking one foot up then the next, but more of sliding his feet as he went along. It was clear to see, even for me at six years old, that this was a man who did not have a home.
I watched as my father took notice of the homeless man, and how it pained him. I also watched as the restaurant employee scoffed at filling this mans order of a cup of black coffee, her eyes judging him as she took his change. It was cold outside and I have no doubt the homeless man needed to warm up more than anything else. My father brought our food to our booth and said something to my mother before he turned and walked away. I watched my father walked over to the man, speak to him quietly before handing something to him. The homeless mans face lit up as he began thanking my father repeatedly. My dad was never one for drawing attention to him, so he quietly nodded at the man and returned to our table. Of course, my siblings and I were eager to hear my father report on what had occurred, but dad kept it simple and stated: “I wanted to buy him a meal” and that was the end of that. To this day I can recall the scene in great detail, including how proud I was of my father for loving his neighbor much like the Good Samaritan.
We live in a world now where we are growing more and more invisible to one another. We have become increasingly desensitized to the suffering of those around us, feeling less and less responsible for helping where we can. In the same way that the man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho was left beaten and half dead, we need only tune into the headlines or social media to recognize that we too find ourselves beaten up and half dead from sin. As GK Chesterton said, “we are all in the same boat, and we are all seasick.”
The good news as Christians, we have Christ's examples and the scriptures to guide us through life. As we read the story of the Good Samaritan, we can draw parallels between the Samaritan and Christ. Like the Good Samaritan, Jesus was not welcomed by many of the Jews and was often treated as an outsider, his motives often questioned. Like the Good Samaritan, Christ is the outsider who came to rescue us. In the parable, the Samaritan dressed the wounds with oil and wine and are not our wounds also healed by oils used in the sacraments and the wine we receive in the Eucharist? The Samaritan lifts the grievously injured man and places him on his beast in the same way that Christ lifts us, and bears our burdens for us. Christ takes upon himself our dysfunction and our sin. The Samaritan then pays the innkeeper to care for the half-dead man, offering reassurance that he will pay whatever the costs incurred for saving the mans life. Christ took full responsibility for the costs of bringing us all to a state a full health. He paid our ransom by paying the ultimate price; he sacrificed his own life so that we may be spared death and have eternal life with God in heaven. In response to being asked ;who is my neighbor, Christ teaches us that we are all one another's neighbor.
We do not need to be the same race, ethnicity, nationality or gender to be kind to one another. We do not need to speak the same language, hold the same political views or even know one another to be neighborly. In fact, its easy being a good neighbor to those who we like and agree with. But Christ called us to be a Good Samaritan to all, even when it feels hard.
To Jesus through Mary- Amelia Maness-Gilliland