As we look at our faith for many it is simply a matter of doing what is written down to follow religious rules. As long as we at least go to Mass on Sunday, go to confession once a year, and lets not forget Holy Days of Obligation, as long as I do this I get to go to heaven. Most are unaware that more is required of us. Jesus teaches us what it truly means to be neighbor to the other, the stranger, the lost and forsaken.
The Good Samaritan Gospel is truly the reminder we need today. I’d like to encourage us to see in our neighbor, not only our neighbor but our brother or sister. The Gospel from Luke teaches us to see and regard everyone as our neighbor, even those on the peripheries, the unloved and unwelcomed in our community.
A scholar of the Law approaches Jesus with the question of “what must I do to enter everlasting life?” Jesus directs him to the law and how he understands it. “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
Jesus desires to take him deeper. The gift of eternal life comes when we are ultimately willing to love and to truly give our lives away in the radical unconditional love of our Brother or Sister. The love of our neighbor transitions ones faith to simply doing what’s required to a willingness to step out into selfless love.
Jesus ties his teaching to worship and those who are called to lead God’s People. The parable is set on the dangerous wondering road from Jerusalem to Jericho. Members of the Levites served as priests for the people of God. Each takes turns serving in the temple. So we have one priest coming down the road from Jerusalem and the other on his way to serve as a priest on his way up. The third traveler is a Samaritan a man whom they both despised. The fourth travel is a man falls in with a robber who leaves him for dead. Both the priest and the Levite both pass him, but the unexpected one the outcast steps up and sees in the man laying on the road his neighbor and brother. He gives totally of himself and cares for the man and restores him to health. He goes beyond what is required and gives totally of himself.
This unlikely and despised Samaritan become the example for the scholar, the disciples and for us to follow. What is required is radical love and seeing in the most despised of our society our brother and sister. To make faith alive we must be willing to love one another and be our Brother or Sisters Keeper!