This week Jesus presents us with the familiar parable of the Good Samaritan. This “foreigner” is moved with compassion from his head and heart, to help the poor man left for dead along the side of the road. In our own lives Jesus is the compassionate stranger, who has saved us from the brink of spiritual death. Hs is on “our side” and takes us in to the “inn” of His embrace after tending to our wounds through the Sacraments of the Church.
The good news is that we we are not left wondering what exactly we are expected to do after we’re healed and sent back on our journeys. We are to “Go and do likewise.” Selfishness in many ways is synonymous with being human. No one has to us teach us how to be greedy, egocentric, or lazy.
There are two forms of “good news”. One is the selfishly good news that each of us has the freedom to walk on the “opposite” side of the road and thereby remain in our zones of complacent comfort. The selfless law, the Good News of Jesus, is warming to the heart when we hear it, but the other “good news” related to our self-centeredness is very hard to resist. So again, the Gospel puts us in tension. We also ask: who is our neighbor whom we should care for and whom can we pass by and ignore. We would say that our neighbor is the one who will appreciate our acts of generosity. Our neighbors are those whom we know. Our neighbors are those who are similar to us; think the way we do and act in accordance with our values.
Jesus’ teaching is His whole life of including, embracing, and saving us in our being stripped, beaten by the ways of the world within and around us. He has brought us from our own being half-dead back to full life. Jesus teaches us to share, to extend His compassion, and work to heal. These are lessons we need to hear no matter how mature and wise we may think we are.