Today’s Scriptures: Lectionary selections from the Revised Common Lectionary Year C
I am the original owner of my house in what is actually a fairly small subdivision for Austin. Every time a new house was completed, those of us who already lived here welcomed the new residents. As the neighborhood filled we knew everyone up and down the street. Seven years later, my next door neighbor and I are the only people on the street still living here. Of the new neighbors, I only know the one who shares a fence with me and the one directly across the street. The people who lived in the time of Jesus could not have imagined the scale of the cities in which we live today, so the lawyer’s question that prompted the story of the good Samaritan rings especially true today: who is my neighbor?
The conversation began, as so many of Jesus’s conversations with the Jewish leadership began, with a lawyer asking Jesus a rigged question in an attempt to make say something incriminating. The answer comes from scripture: love God completely and love your neighbor as yourself. Two very straightforward concepts.
The first concept, the call to love God with all one’s heart, soul, strength, and mind is a call to love God the way God loves us.
The second concept, the call to love one’s neighbor as oneself, though opened itself up to some interpretation. That is where the real challenge came to Jesus. How would he apply that concept? To make the point clear, Jesus told an illustrative story. By the time the story reached a conclusion, the questioner had only one conclusion to draw: the person who helped the one in need. We are neighbors to everyone in need. By the time all was settled we see that loving our neighbor as ourselves means loving him as God loves him.
Loving everyone in need the way God loves them was not the answer the lawyer expected to get. It put him in a situation where he was required to act. It puts us in a situation where we are required to act. Jesus mentions love regularly. The story of the good Samaritan moves from love as a concept to love as an action. The idea that we love our neighbor in the same way that God loves forces love to be active. God’s love for us is not a concept, it is a daily action.
Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, copyright © 2005 Consultation on Common Texts. www.commontexts.org