Friday, July 9, 2010

Samaritan Neighbor


In Luke 10:25-37 Jesus quotes the Old Testament book of Leviticus, "Love your neighbor as yourself." The lawyer who had asked what he had to do to inherit eternal life then asks, "Who is my neighbor?" The Hebrew of Leviticus says "neighbor," but in a Jewish Bible I have the word is translated "kinsman." Another Bible says it means "fellow countryman." Perhaps there was a debate about how extensive this love command was.
By telling the parable of the Good Samaritan Jesus expands the meaning of neighbor to mean anybody and everybody. Most of the Jews and Samaritans distrusted, even despised each other. Jesus makes the Samaritan the hero of his parable who goes way out of his way to care for a wounded Jew. When Jesus asks the lawyer which person showed himself neighbor, the lawyer must answer "The one who showed mercy."
Jesus wants the lawyer and me to understand that even somene we distrust and despise is the "neighbor" that we must love as ourselves. I think of individuals and groups of people. The clever parable also shows the Samaritan "neighbor" lovingly caring for his Jewish "neighbor." The lawyer and I must go and do the same.
Indian paintbrush has already started to bloom. Another name is bergamot. The leaves are used to make Earl Grey tea.
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