Jesus said: “Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor?” (Lk 10:36)
At the end of the parable, Jesus asked the lawyer: who was the neighbor to the man victimized? The lawyer replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” He does not say “the Samaritan” and we might imagine that the hostility between Samaritans and Jews made that answer hard to admit.
We often discover neighbors in the most unexpected people, even those whose very name or origins we find difficult to utter. In today’s world, where polarized politics often set those of different religious identities against one another, Jesus challenges us through this parable to see the importance of our vocation to cross borders and walls of separation.
As with the lawyer, we are challenged to reflect upon how we live our lives, not merely in terms of whether we do good or not, but whether, like the priest and the Levite, we are neglecting to act mercifully.
Holy God, your Son Jesus Christ came among us to show us the way of compassion. Help us by your Spirit to follow his example, to serve the needs of all your children, and so give united Christian witness to your ways of love and mercy. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.