Daily Reflection
October 4th, 1999
Tom Schloemer, S.J.
Associate Pastor
John 1:1-2:1, 11
Luke 10:25-37

There is nothing quite like a lively verbal exchange.  I must admit that my favorite dialogues in the Gospels are those in which Jesus so well handles questioners, some sincere, some mean-spirited.  Today's Gospel reading is one such example.

When asked for a formula for salvation, Jesus asks, in turn, what the law provides.  The Great Commandment is dutifully recited, followed by Jesus' approval and encouragement.  At that point, the lawyer should have sat down.  In wishing "to justify himself," he asks, "And who is my neighbor?"  namely, the person I must love as myself.

The celebrated parable follows in which a man, left half-dead by robbers, is passed up by a priest, perhaps fearing ritual impurity for contact with a (possibly) dead body, and a levite, perhaps fearing the man being a decoy for bandits.  Only a despised Samaritan, virtually a non-person to the Jews, stops to help the victim.  The point Jesus makes is powerful:  your reluctance even to identify the Samaritan, "The one who treated him with compassion,"  illustrates Jesus' point.

How can I come to this degree of neighborly love that Jesus asks?  Very often, crisis triggers it.  I may be in a situation, in which I don't have time to think, in which I must react spontaneously to the need of a fellow human being.  I come to realize that a person of another nationality or race or religion is just that, a fellow human being, also created by God.  I can put away my judgments and especially my fears and come to know, to trust, and to love the person.  Then, as Jesus exhorts the lawyer, I can "go and do the same."

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