The first reading, taken from Deuteronomy, reminds us that God not only gives us His Commandments in Holy Scriptures, but that they are also written in our hearts so that we may obey them and inherit eternal life with God. In the second reading, St. Paul reminds the Colossians, and us, that just as Christ Jesus is the “visible image of the invisible God,” so our neighbours are the visible image of Christ living in our midst. In today’s Gospel, a scribe asks Jesus a very basic religious question: “What should I do to inherit eternal life?” In answer to the question, Jesus directs the scribe’s attention to the Sacred Scriptures. The Scriptural answer is, “love God and express it by loving your neighbour.” However, to the scribe the word “neighbour” means another scribe or Pharisee – never a Samaritan or a Gentile. Hence, the scribe insists on clarification of the word “neighbour.” So, Jesus tells him the parable of the Good Samaritan. The parable clearly indicates that a “neighbour” is anyone who needs help. Thus, the correct approach is not to ask, “Who is my neighbour?” but rather to ask, “Am I a good neighbour to others?” Jesus, the Heavenly Good Samaritan, gives us a final commandment during the Last Supper, “Love one another as I have loved you,” because the invisible God dwells in every human being.
This parable that Jesus told was shocking. Shocking because the idea of a Samaritan demonstrating how the Scribe should live his life was beyond comprehension. The sad aspect of this parable is that it revealed the true nature of the so-called religious leaders of Jesus’ time. Love for neighbour and concern for the troubles that people encountered in their daily lives did not register on their radar. Rather, acting piously and observing the rituals and laws were much more important than helping and loving people. This is a lesson for us all today.
It matters not how many times we attend Mass and recite prayers. This is not the test of how faithful we are to the Gospel of Christ. What matters is how much we love, genuinely love. Not just being polite to people but all the time inside despising them but loving them. Going out of our way to help those in need who lie bleeding and bruised by the side of life’s road. The parable of the Good Samaritan is as relevant today as it was 2,000 years ago.