One day a lawyer came to Jesus and asked what he needed to do to live forever or, “to get into heaven” or “to become enlightened.”
Jesus asked him what the law of the Ten Commandments said. The lawyer answered, “You shall love God with all your heart, and with all of your soul, and with all your strength, and your neighbor as yourself.” “Right!” said Jesus. Then the lawyer asked, “But, Teacher, who is my neighbor?” In other words, “who do I have to treat lovingly?” This is the story that Jesus told to the man:
Once, a man was walking on a lonely stretch of road between Jerusalem and Jericho. Suddenly a gang of thieves jumped out from the side of the road and surrounded him. “Give us your money,” they demanded. “I need my money” he cried. “I have to buy food with this money, for myself and my whole family.”
One of the thieves picked up a rock from the side of the road and hit the man in the head. He fell to the ground with a groan, bleeding. Seeing no one around the thieves jumped on the man and took everything he had, including his money, and his clothing. One of the thieves picked up a stick and hit the man hard several times before leaving him on the side of the road half dead.
After a time, a priest came walking down the road. He saw the man lying on the side of the road and crossed over to the other side as he hurried by. Soon another man, a Levite appeared. He too, saw the wounded man lying in the hot sun, naked and bleeding and he scurried on by.
A long time passed. Flies buzzed around the man who was dying from his injuries. Luckily someone else was coming down the road. He was a Samaritan riding on his donkey. Now the people of Samaria were not friendly with the people of this man’s country. They were sworn enemies of each other.
But the Samaritan man did not hesitate when he saw the man lying by the side of the road. He didn’t stop to think about whether he should help him because of where he was from, or what group the man belonged to. He saw that this man needed help and he felt compassion.
The Samaritan took healing oil and wine from his bag and cleaned the man’s wounds and bound them up with bandages made from the cloth of his own shirt. He covered him with a robe. He gave the man a drink of water and helped the man onto his donkey. Slowly, for the man was in great pain and the road was long, they walked to the next town. There the Samaritan found an inn and asked the innkeeper to give him what was necessary to make the man comfortable. The next day, the Samaritan gave money to the innkeeper to pay for the wounded man to stay at the inn until he got better. The Samaritan promised to come back in a few days and pay whatever else was needed to bring the man back to health.
When Jesus finished telling this story, he asked the lawyer, “Which one of these three men acted like a neighbor to the man who fell among thieves?” The lawyer said, “The one who showed kindness.” “Yes,” said Jesus, “Go and do the same.”
So the people we think might help us in need may not always be there for us. On the other hand, the Samaritan did not think about the race or the religion of the man; he just saw someone who needed help.
Stopping on the roadside and helping the man could have put the Samaritan’s life in danger, and it did end up costing him money. Yet he was willing to get involved. Why? Because he had compassion…
— the harbinger