Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?”He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”
But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?”He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” ~ Luke 10:25-37
It's hard to overstate how shocking this parable would have been to Jesus' listeners.
A Samaritan being helpful? Helping a Jew?
Samaritans and Jews did not like each other. It would be like a Muslim stopping to help a Neo-Nazi, or a Q-Anon believer stopping to help a BLM member.
I talked yesterday about how kindness can take the temperature down in a situation with someone you disagree with.
But here, Jesus takes it a step further. Kindness (mercy, compassion) is meant even for our enemy. Even for the person we most dislike.
Even for a person who comes from the group of people we most mistrust.
And that kindness or mercy or compassion is meant as more than just kind words. It is meant to be an active love.
A reaching out beyond ourselves, even when everyone in our immediate circle tells us not to bother with "that person."
God's compassion, God's mercy, God's kindness - it goes that deep every day. It comes down to us even when we least deserve it.
Who is the one you are being called to show this level of compassion to today?
Holy God, move me toward justice, mercy, and humility in all my dealings with your people. Amen