THE PARABLE OF THE GOOD SAMARITAN
25There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test [Jesus] and said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it? 27He said in reply, “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.” 28He replied to him, “You have answered correctly, do this and you will live.”
29But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30Jesus replied, “A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. 31A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. 32Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. 34He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wound and bandaged him. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn and cared for him. 35The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.’ 36Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” 37He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
FIRST READING: Dr 30:10-14
[Moses said to the people:] 10”If only you would heed the voice of the Lord, your God, and keep his commandments and statues that are written in this book of the law, when you return to the Lord, your God, with all your heart and all your soul.
11”For this command that I enjoin on you today is not too mysterious and remote for you. 12It is not up in the sky, that you should say, ‘Who will go up in the sky to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’ 13Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’ 14No, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths an in your hearts; you have only to carry it out.”
RESPONSORIAL PSALM: Ps 69 or Ps 19
“Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.” Or “Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.”
SECOND READING: Col 1:15-20
15[Christ Jesus] is the image of the invisible God,/ the firstborn of all creation./ 16For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth,/ the visible and the invisible,/ whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers,/ all things were created through him and for him./ 17He is before things,/ and in him all things hold together./ 18He is the head of the body, the church./ He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,/ that in all things he himself might be preeminent./ 19For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell,/and through him to reconcile all things for him,/ making peace by the blood of his cross/ 20through him, whether those on earth or those I heaven.
GO AND DO LIKEWISE. The way to life is not primarily through knowing; it is through doing. The scholar of the law knows that he must do to inherit eternal life. He cites the law correctly. But that is not enough. Thus Jesus tells him, “Do this and you will live.” Again, after Jesus gets the scholar of the law to answer which of the three who saw the wounded man was neighbor to the robbers’ victim (“The one who treated him with mercy”), Jesus tells him, “Go and do likewise.”
The deeds that we are asked to do to have life are deeds of compassion and love. Belonging to a chosen people, or having a religious position, does not qualify us for eternal life. What qualifies us is love. It is when we love that we show we know God, for God is love.
The priest and the Levite sidestepped life when they avoided the robbers’ victim. The Samaritan (who did not even belong to the chosen people) found life when he picked up the victim and helped him. When we help those in need, we find eternal life. More important than being religious is having a heart for those in need.
Quote: We have a heart for God if we have a heart for the needy.