From the story of the Good Samaritan my neighbor is anyone who needs my help. My benevolent actions identify the extent to which I love my neighbor as myself. “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:36-37
I often thought that the good Samaritan went above and beyond the call of duty. But like Boaz, radical benevolence is just what Jesus commands. It is not enough to just give a dollar when the need is much greater. Jesus told us to go and do likewise, and not just in certain cases. When my brother or sister is homeless, I must try to help them get a place to live, help them get a job, help them get education or training for a job, and continue to provide for their needs until they can provide for themselves. I know this is often too much for most of us, “but to him who has an ear to hear, let him hear.”
So radical benevolence looks to the good outcome for the person in need. If this is beyond my current means, I will pay it forward in the future, when I am able.
Lord Jesus, Help me to recognize the needs of my fellow man. Help me to love my neighbor as myself and to practice radical benevolence as you have commanded. Amen.
The priest and Levite were wealthy and lived under strict Mosaic Law. They were told that to touch a wounded foreigner would make them unclean. So they were more concerned for their own self-righteousness than for the wounded traveler. The Samaritan was not under these strict legal requirements, and had learned to have mercy on those in need. This is the true righteousness and true ritual purity.
What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?” He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.” “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.” Matthew 15:11-20
Lord Jesus, Forgive me of my sins and wash me in your blood. Like the good Samaritan, may I help those in need and not care for my own righteousness or ritual purity. Amen.