2 Cor. 3:4-9; Lk. 10:23-37
There is drama in today’s Gospel. A lawyer asks our Lord a typical question for the day, “What must I do to inherit everlasting life?” And our Lord elicits from him the ages old commandment to love God and neighbor. But then the lawyer asks Him, “And who is my neighbor?” If we were in the crowd, we might bristle a little bit at this question because it is asked in this sense: who is my neighbor, so I may know who I need to love and who I need not to love. Our Lord ever so gently and mercifully tells this beautiful parable where the Samaritan is the hero. Jews and Samaritans had nothing to do with each other. When the Lord asks the lawyer who is the neighbor to the man fallen victim to robbers, he cannot even get himself to say the word, Samaritan. He says simply, “The one who showed him mercy.”
What the parable tells us is that our neighbor is the one we happen upon, the one who is next to us at any given time. The Samaritan does not distinguish. He does not ask if this is a Samaritan of a Jew. We get the impression from the lawyer that he would have had to stop, and take out his book, and look it up. Is this my neighbor? He was paralyzed. And this is why St. Paul in the Epistle and elsewhere rejects the Old Testament law, not because of its content, but because of its stringency, which made it possible to manipulate to do not the right thing but the wrong thing. St. Paul says, the law kills, but the spirit gives life. We are people of the New Testament, under the Spirit.
We are taken by the Samaritan, whose charity is spontaneous, magnanimous, and effective. So effusive is his care for the one fallen victim to robbers, that it reminds us of the Lord Himself. He is the Good Samaritan. He came among us by His birth and Incarnation and became our neighbor. Seeing us, wounded by original sin, and left to ourselves, came to our care, and gave is every grace, by His cross and resurrection, to be healed and forgiven, that we might have new life. Perhaps this is what the Lord hoped the lawyer would see, as well, that the Son of God has come to us now, as our neighbor and as our savior.