Reading: Luke 10:25-37
Verse 29: “But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?'”
The expert in the Law answers Jesus’ question correctly and is told to love God and neighbor in order to live, to gain eternal life. It would be a nice place to end the story. But it continues and in verse 29 the expert says to Jesus, “But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?'” The lawyer wanted to be justified, to hear it is okay to love who he wanted to love.
Before we go too deep in our condemnation of the expert in the Law we must admit that we too often ask the same question. It may sound more like “God, do I really have to love that person?” Like with the priest and then the Levite, we see a need or we encounter one who is unloved and we rationalize and we pass by. We have to get to work. I have an appointment. I’m not equipped or trained to deal with that… Oh how we long to be like the Samaritan.
The Samaritan stops and cares for the man. He brings him to an inn and cares more for the injured man. He then pays the innkeeper to care for the man and promises to return to cover any additional costs. What extravagant and generous love!
Turning back to the one who wanted to justify himself, to the one who wanted to limit who all he had to love, Jesus asks him who the neighbor was to the man who was injured. He responds, “The one who had mercy on him.” The one who stopped to love someone who was really hard to love – the one who went out of his way to love extravagantly and generously. May we too “Go and do likewise.”
Prayer: Lord God, open my heart, soul, strength, and mind to love like the Samaritan loved. Guide me to not count the cost and to be generous with all that you’ve blessed me with. Thank you, Lord. Amen.