Deut 30:10-14; Col 1:15-20; Luke 10:25-37
Dear Friends! A seventy-year old man won the Powerball lottery $40 million. He had a bad heart and so the family was afraid that the news might excite him and kill him. Hence they asked the parish priest to convey this news to him tactfully. The priest came and asked the old man: ‘Friend, suppose you win in lottery a sum of $40 million – what would you do?’ The old man said, “I would give you and the church half of it.” Hearing that, the parish priest fell over and died. That was a charity shock, too good to be true. If I happen to be that priest, don’t worry I will not die. I will have plans to use the money effectively.
We all know the parable of the Good Samaritan. In this parable, Jesus presents three philosophies of life concerning our relationship with our neighbor:
First, The philosophy of the thieves who robbed the Samaritan: Lust: “What is yours is mine; I will take it by force.” This has been the philosophy of Marxism and other revolutionary movements and of modern terrorist groups. In accepting this philosophy of life, the thieves, like their modern counterparts, terrorized others and exploited them, ignoring human rights and having selfish gain as their chief motive.
In our world, many more thieves operate than we might realize. They are the “Enron” executives of every company who just can’t be satisfied with being wealthy; they have to have all the marbles. The robber who takes money that does not belong to him is a thief. The rapist who takes sexual pleasure from someone not his spouse is a thief. The adulterer who steals another man’s wife is a thief. God has given us things to use, and God has given us people to love. But when we begin to love things and use people, we become thieves. If our attitude is: “I just make sure I get mine. I don’t care about anyone else,” we are probably thieves.
Second; The philosophy of life of the Jewish priest and the Levite: “What is mine is mine; I won’t part with it.” The priests were powerful upper-class authorities governing the Temple cult. In the parable, the representatives of these classes did not pay any attention to the wounded man because of their utter selfishness. Misplaced zeal for their religious duty gave them a couple of lame excuses: They saw the wounded man on the road, not as a person needing help, but a possible source of ritual impurity.
The parable’s priest and Levite, however, represent people who are always demanding their rights, but never talking about their responsibilities. These two men exercised their legal right to pass this man by, and forgot God in the process. These people don’t say, “I do what I want to do,” but, “I will only do what I have to do-I won’t stick my neck out for anybody.” When one does only do what one must do in life, one is not a good neighbor.
Third, the philosophy of the Samaritan: Love: “What is mine is yours as well. I shall share it with you.” The Samaritan was generous enough to see the wounded Jew as a neighbor. He ignored the long history of enmity between his people and the Jews. The Good Samaritan was taking a real risk, since the robbers who had assaulted the traveler might still be nearby. Nevertheless, he gave first aid to the wounded Jew, took him to a nearby inn and made arrangements for his food and accommodation by giving the inn keeper two denarii. Two denarii was a lot of money—enough, in fact, to pay for more than three weeks’ board and lodging. The Samaritan also assured the innkeeper of further payment for any additional medical requirements of the wounded man.
What made this Samaritan so special was not the color of his skin, but the compassion in his heart. No law could make the priest or the Levite stop, but love could make the Samaritan stop. If you and I happen to be on that day, who would we have been — the thief, the priest, the Levite, or the Good Samaritan?” If a person has a need that we can and should meet, that person is our neighbor.
Every time we see a person in need, we immediately become a neighbor; we become a minister with a ministry. Be kind to people. The world needs kindness so much. You never know what sort of battles other people are fighting. Often just a soft word or a warm compliment can be immensely supportive. You can do a great deal of good by just being considerate, by extending a little friendship, going out of your way to do just one nice thing, or saying one good word. Kindness is a language that the deaf can hear and the blind can read.”
Through this parable Jesus is telling us not to ask “Who is my neighbor?” but rather to ask, “Am I a good neighbor to others?”