Jesus is the Good Samaritan (Luke 10)

Gospel of Luke, Jesus of Nazareth

Jesus is the Good Samaritan (Luke 10)

If you want to know Jesus, you need to know that He is the Good Samaritan.

Read chapter 10 of the gospel according to Saint Luke here.

The Good Samaritan may be the most famous of Jesus’ parables. It begins with the lawyer asking Jesus what one must do to gain eternal life. Jesus puts the question back to the lawyer, who sums up the law in two commands: Love God with all your heart, and your neighbor as yourself. Jesus confirms that he has answered correctly. “Do this, and you will live.”

Note that these two commands are inextricably linked. You cannot love God if you do not love your neighbor. Likewise, you cannot love your neighbor if you do not love God. The Pharisees, who professed a great love for God, consistently failed to love their neighbor; in doing do, they failed to love God. Our modern secular world professes a love for neighbor while remaining indifferent or hostile to God. This is wrong in itself, but it also invariably leads to failures to love our neighbor.

The parable of the Good Samaritan is prompted by the lawyer’s follow-up question, “Who is my neighbor?” The parable is interpreted to mean that everyone we encounter is our neighbor, and we have a divinely mandated obligation to love them and care for their needs. This is a correct interpretation, but there is another way of viewing the parable.

Jesus is the Good Samaritan, and you or I are the injured person, dying by the side of the road. We have been beset by robbers, all the evils of this world. A priest and Levite see us, but they pass us by. In our modern age, how many people look to salvation from a politician? How many worship celebrities or athletes? None of these people can save us. They may or may not be indifferent to our suffering, but they are fundamentally powerless in the face of our greatest afflications, which are sin and death. Then the Good Samaritan, Jesus, sees us. He immediately helps us in our need. He heals our wounds with oil and wine, images richly evocative of the sacraments of the Church. He leaves us in the care of the innkeeper (the Church), provides the innkeeper with everything needed to care for us, and He promises to return. Jesus is the Good Samaritan who saves us from death.

Can you imagine this story, if the Good Samaritan went to heal the wounded man, and the wounded man said, “No, thank you. It isn’t that bad. I’m not really injured. I can take care of myself. I don’t need you. Go away.” As crazy as that sounds, that’s the attitude many people take towards Jesus. The wounds in our souls are not visible. They can be easy to ignore. Yet they are more corrosive than physical wounds because if they are not healed we cannot enter into eternal life. We cannot share in the happiness of Jesus. If you are dying by the side of the road, will you let Jesus heal you? Will you ask for and receive His mercy? Will you let yourself be loved?

“If [the two great commandments] were diligently kept, there would be neither slave nor free man, neither conqueror nor conquered, (or rather, neither prince not subject), rich nor poor, nor would the devil even be known, for the chaff would rather stand the touch of fire than the devil the fervor of love; so surpassing all things is the constancy of love.” -Saint John Chrysostom

Image: The Good Samaritan by Vincent Van Gogh (downloaded from Wikipedia Commons).

Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet every day for the salvation of souls.

Michael Haverkamp

Michael Haverkamp is a lifelong member of the Roman Catholic Church. He is grateful to his parents for raising him in the faith. He resides in Columbus, Ohio with his amazing wife and three sons. By day he is a (usually) mild-mannered grant writer.

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