IT IS LIKELY that when the lawyer, spoken of in this parable of the Good Samaritan, asked our Lord what he must do to gain eternal life, he had in mind performing one extraordinary act that would insure his salvation. Christ referred him to the Law, which commanded him to love God with his whole heart, soul, and strength and to love his neighbor as himself. To this man, an average Jew, his neighbor would have been a relative or friend, not an enemy or a stranger. It would never have been a Samaritan, whom he would have hated and considered a heretic and idolator. A Jew would have been shocked to hear a bated Samaritan referred to as a neighbor.
In the story told by Christ it is precisely one of these hated·Samaritans who becomes a neighbor to the man who was robbed and beaten. The Samaritan did not hesitate to use his costly supply of wine and oil or to give two days’ wages for whatever care the Jew would require in his absence. In this Christ clearly showed that charity is not to be limited to those of our own race or creed, but that it must extend to anyone in need, and therefore to all mankind.
Our opportunities for being a “good Samaritan” may never be as dramatic as performing an act of mercy on the battlefield. But if we respond to the needs of neighbors, relatives or strangers or to the suffering of enemy and alien nations, if we love them and have compassion on them and pray for them, we are good neighbors.
Information from The Life of Christ “Our Lord’s Life with Lesson in His Own Words for Our Life Today” The Catholic Press, Inc. 1959. © 1954 edited by Reverend John P. O’Connell, MASTD and Jex Martin, following mainly A Chronological Harmony of the Gospels by Stephen J Hartdegen OFM NIHIL OBSTAT John A McMahon; IMPRIMATUR Samuel Cardinal Stritch, Archbishop of Chicago August 1, 1953. Print. Drawing by Albert H Winkler.