Seeing the man half-dead alongside the road and hearing his blood scream from the ground, “Murder! Robbery! Evil!” the startled Samaritan stirs with compassion. He becomes the neighbor when he steps toward the fallen one.
Tragically, the priest who came by just before the Samaritan became a non-neighbor. He is passing by on the other side. Nothing to see here. Got things to do. Systems of schooling, scholarship, standing, status, and strength swept compassion away long, long ago.
Sadly, the well-born man of the priestly religious tribe is also a non-neighbor. He too is passing by on the other side. Nothing to feel here. Not my problem. Things to do. Places to go. Duty calls. No looking back.
The Samaritan is becoming the neighbor. While arriving as the other two did, at the same place on that road, for him everything is different.
He sees. He feels. He acts. He heals. Touching the bloody human, binding up the wounds, pouring his own precious oil and wine into the stranger’s pain – love is happening. Professional plans step aside. Personal safety waits in line. Generosity and patience ascend. Time is lavished on the broken vessel.
Lifting the dirty, beaten, bloody stranger onto his own animal this half-breed, despised, Samaritan leads a triumphal procession of his own along the road to an inn somewhere. And – since there are no shouting children singing praises – the rocks cry out to heaven in songs only angels hear, “Hosanna in the Highest! And on earth, Peace and Goodwill.”
The Samaritan continues to concern himself with the helpless man. Concern. Not anxiety. No worry. His calm, non-anxious, presence carefully tends to the messy man.
Did the Samaritan know the innkeeper? Did the innkeeper know him? Some how a deal was struck – all on behalf of the wounded, robbed, forsaken neighbor. “All expenses paid when I return!”
“Deal!” Agrees the trusting innkeeper.
“Which of the three,” Jesus asks, “do you think showed that he had become and continued to be a neighbor to the man who had fallen among robbers?”
“The man who showed mercy!”
“Yes! Now go and do that too!” Jesus said.
That’s the way it is.
Everyone falls among robbers. Everyone get beaten, stripped, robbed and left half-dead.
Everyone has a neighbor. Everyone gets to be a neighbor. Jesus calls love the greatest commandment: Love God. Love yourself. Love your neighbor. It is the command commanding all commandments!
This is a story about loving our neighbors – seeing one and being one – as we are going along the way.
I see you. I am stopping. I am binding your wounds. I am pouring in oil and wine. I am lifting you up to go on a ride with me on this dear beast named, My Life, to the inn that has room for you.
You can simply – Rest. Wonder. Grieve. Hope. Rage. Remember. Forget. Listen for love. It is here with you now. Receive. Believe. Life Lives!