One day, a lawyer stood before Jesus, seeking to test Him and justify himself. He asked, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus, knowing the intent behind the question, responded with a question of His own, “What is written in the law? How do you understand it?”
The lawyer answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
Jesus affirmed the lawyer’s response, saying, “You have answered correctly. Do this, and you will live.”
But the lawyer, wanting to justify himself further, asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In response, Jesus shared the powerful parable of the Good Samaritan—a story that would challenge the lawyer’s understanding of love and compassion.
Jesus began, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him, and left him half dead, lying on the roadside.”
By chance, a priest happened to pass by the wounded man. Seeing him, the priest crossed to the other side of the road, avoiding any contact or assistance. Soon after, a Levite, another religious figure, came by, but he too passed by without stopping.
Then, unexpectedly, a Samaritan—a member of a despised and marginalized group—approached the wounded man. Despite the historical animosity between Jews and Samaritans, the Samaritan was moved with compassion. He bandaged the man’s wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. He lifted him onto his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he cared for him throughout the night.
The next day, the Samaritan paid the innkeeper and said, “Look after him. When I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense.”
Jesus then turned to the lawyer and asked, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The lawyer replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”
Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.”
Through this parable, Jesus shattered preconceived notions and prejudices, revealing the true essence of loving one’s neighbor. The Good Samaritan exemplified selfless compassion, going above and beyond societal expectations to care for a stranger in need.
Jesus challenged the lawyer—and all who would hear the parable—to recognize that true love and neighborliness transcend boundaries, prejudices, and self-interest. It is not defined by one’s social standing or religious affiliation but by genuine acts of kindness and mercy towards those in need.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan serves as a timeless reminder of the importance of compassion and empathy in our daily lives. It teaches us to open our hearts to the suffering of others, regardless of their background or circumstances, and to actively seek opportunities to show love and care.
As followers of Jesus, we are called to emulate the example of the Good Samaritan, stepping out of our comfort zones to extend a helping hand to those around us. In doing so, we become agents of healing, bridge builders, and instruments of God’s love in a world that often cries out for compassion and understanding.