Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29)
Who is our neighbor? This is the question asked by an expert in the law. The Bible explains that the question was not an honest inquiry to satisfy his thirst for knowledge, but a statement to justify himself. This question was grounded on himself to show off his righteousness before God. In his heart, he was fully justified and righteous, because he taught the law and meticulously kept the law. Yes, he was righteous in his own years. Therefore, he was well qualified to inherit eternal life. To his surprise, Jesus answered the question with a parable:
“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ (Luke 10:30-35)
Not a priest, nor a Levite, but a Samaritan took pity on a man attacked by robbers and abandoned. Then the Samaritan approached to him, bondaged him wounds, and took him to an inn. The Samaritan gave money to the innkeeper, and promised to reimburse for an extra expense when returning. What a story with full of love and compassion! At the time of this parable was spoken by Jesus, Samaritans were really badly treated by Jews because Samaritans were not legally pure in their eyes. Even so, the Samaritan opened his heart on the person in need, and provided the help that the robbed person needed critically.
By the way, the above discourse between Jesus and the expert in the law was initiated by Jesus’ question about “What is written in the Law?” The expert in the law, who knew the law thoroughly, replied “‘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, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke 10:27) The answer was perfect, but his heart was not. Then Jesus explained the true meaning of the perfect answer – to show love to a person in need even though the person might have continuously mistreated you.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, (Matthew 5:43-44)
What’s the common between the robbed person in the parable, and our enemies in our lives? Both of them are in need. The robbed person is physically in need, while our enemies are spiritually in need. As the Samaritan treated the robbed person as his loving neighbor, we also pray for our enemies as our neighbors spiritually in need. Yes, our enemies do physically and mentally persecute and harm us. Every action of hating and harming us adds a scar and wound in our heart as well as enemies’ heart too. Sadly, they do not know this fact. By continuing doing so, they are spiritually dying. Nobody says that having an enemy or being attacked by enemy is a pleasant thing. It is really painful, but it provides an opportunity to love them, and doing so, we can save their souls. Of course, with our own might and strength alone, we are not able to love our enemies. Only through the power of the Jesus Christ, we can overcome our limitation and go beyond the pains afflicted by our enemies. With His loving eyes, we can see their miserable and dying spirits, and take pity on them with the love of Jesus Christ on cross. Then our heart will be filled with mercy, compassion and love.
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:35-36)
Let’s pray together. Please help us to increase our love in Christ toward others including our enemies who persecute us with a greater power, and continue breaking our heart and mind. And do not lose heart, and humbly bring request to God. Then the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7). Our reward in heaven will be great, and we will be called sons of God, the Most High even on earth. Amen!