Step #1: Lectio / Read
There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said,
"Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
Jesus said to him, "What is written in the law?
How do you read it?"
He 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."
He replied to him, "You have answered correctly;
do this and you will live."
But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus,
"And who is my neighbor?"
"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.
A priest happened to be going down that road,
but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side.
Likewise a Levite came to the place,
and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side.
But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him
was moved with compassion at the sight.
He approached the victim,
poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them.
Then he lifted him up on his own animal,
took him to an inn, and cared for him.
The 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.'
Which of these three, in your opinion,
was neighbor to the robbers' victim?"
He answered, "The one who treated him with mercy."
Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
If you were like me, and the first time you read that Gospel story above you were tempted just to skim it because you "know the story," I implore you right now to stop reading and go back and read it very carefully.
Alright, now I think we're ready to see what it was Jesus wanted to teach us in this story. Obviously, Jesus had a message for the scholar of the law that day: just knowing the law wasn't enough. The scholar was probably asking about who the neighbor was as his test to Jesus because he had a very clearly defined set of people who fit into the category of "neighbor" under the law, and he wanted to be sure that Jesus played his game and defined neighbor as he did so that he only had to love a very specific, select group of people.
You have probably heard a lot of this before, but it's important to remember that Jews and Samaritans did not get along in Jesus' time. The Samaritans were of a different one of the 12 tribes, the one the Jews stayed furthest away from because they worshipped God in a different place and were not living right according to their reading of the Law. When Jesus tells the story of the priest and the Levite walking right past the man on the side of the road, the man was probably ready for someone else to stop and help the injured man, but certainly not a samaritan.
Jews don't associate with Samaritans, he might have thought. How could this Jesus, a teacher of the law, be pointing to a Samaritan as the example of what it means to love and be a neighbor? They're not my neighbors! I can't even talk to them!
Obviously, Jesus knows what He is doing by pointing to a Samaritan as the One to imitate, the One who knows what it means to truly be a neighbor to those around him.
What can we learn from the Samaritan?
We learn that love is not bound by our categories. We learn that, when we someone in need, we're not just asked to do the minimum. The Samaritan burst the categories that were put in place to dive him from others, and he took way better care of the man than anyone would have asked him to, and that's precisely the point. When Jesus calls us to go and do likewise, He isn't asking us to go and be nice to other people. Jesus tells the scholar here that he is to go and do likewise after telling a story of a Samaritan taking incredible, selfless, over-the-top care of another person, and so we are called to do the same.
Sometime soon, when you have a chance to help someone in need, take the chance to be really selfless. Don't just assume that, if you do a little small thing for them while still not liking them because they're not really your friend, you've done your job, because it's not about job. No, instead of doing something small and keeping your distance, do something radical; truly love someone who you have a hard time loving, and then see how God works in your heart.
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
"'Which of these three, in your opinion,
was neighbor to the robbers' victim?'
He answered, 'The one who treated him with mercy.'
Jesus said to him, 'Go and do likewise.'"
When you think of your "neighbor," who are some of those people? How are you being called to love them more perfectly?
What is a scenario recently where you could have "done likewise" recently by loving radically? Did you? Why or why not?
How has Jesus shown love to you through others around you?
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
Jesus, show me who my neighbors are.
Jesus, give me chances to love.
Lord, I long to do like the Samaritan.
For the Rest of Your Day...
Be on the look out for chances to love radically.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Jason Theobald.
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