The Deeper Meaning of the Good Samaritan

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This morning’s Gospel reading is the famous story of the Good Samaritan. After mentioning that we must “love our neighbor as ourself” a scholar asks Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”

Jesus tells the story of a man who was beaten by robbers and left by the side of the road to die. A priest and a Levite see him but stay away. But a Samaritan man has pity and helps him.

Jesus then asks the scholar, “Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:36-37.)

The thing most people get from this parable is that we should help people in need. But there’s a deeper meaning that Jesus is communicating.

The context of the parable is, “who is my neighbor?” The Law said you were to “love your neighbor as you love yourself” (Leviticus 19:18.) Look back at the question Jesus asked the scholar. The neighbor was the one who “treated him with mercy.” Jesus is the neighbor we are to love as we love ourselves.

And then, by telling the scholar to “go and do likewise,” Jesus shows that the poor are our neighbors also. And by loving those in need, we are also loving God.

The Catechism says, “There is a certain resemblance between the unity of the divine persons and the fraternity that men are to establish among themselves in truth and love. Love of neighbor is inseparable from love for God” (CCC 1878.) It later emphasizes that the Ten Commandments, “must be interpreted in light of this twofold yet single commandment of love, the fullness of the Law” (CCC 2055.)

We begin by the one on the side of the road, helpless and dying, and are saved by Jesus, the Good Samaritan, the Good Shepherd. This is our love of God. Then, once healed, we are to “go and do likewise” by helping those in need. This is our love of neighbor. And Jesus tells that, “whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40.) Which brings us full circle back into the love of God.

This is what I was attempting to convey in the latest VCAT video, “Love God, Love Each Other.” I know my previous post was about who made it, this post is about the “why” it was made.

May we all “go and do likewise” today!