(Adults, it would be good to begin by reading the Gospel aloud to the child. The parable is beat when heard all at once. The reflection breaks it up, explaining and questioning as we go along.)
Often, when we listen to stories about Jesus in the Bible, we hear people asking him questions. Sometimes they are testing him or trying to get him to say something wrong. Other times, they are simply curious and want to know more. Either way, we learn something from their questions and from what Jesus says in response.
Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he said, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’
The lawyer asks a good question. Jesus has eternal life; we want to be with him. What are we supposed to do?
He answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.’
Many of us have heard this before. Everything we need to know is right here.
Love your neighbour.
The lawyer does not think so.
But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’
Another good question. Does neighbour mean the person who lives next door to us?
Jesus does not like to explain. Instead, he likes to show what he means. He tells this parable, one of his most famous. Maybe we will hear it in a new way today.
A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead.
Now by chance a priest was going down that road;
Oh, good, a priest. Help is on the way!
and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
So likewise a Levite,
A Levite is a holy man, too. Now the man will get some help.
when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
What is going on here? The man needs help!
But a Samaritan while travelling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity.
We heard about Samaritans last week. A Samaritan is a person from Samaria, a part of Israel where they do not worship God in the same way as the Jewish people. Samaritans and Jewish people do not speak to each other. We could say that the Samaritan and the injured man are enemies.
But the Samaritan feels pity when he sees the injured man. Deep inside his guts, he feels sorry for the man. Why?
He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them.
How do we care for cuts and scrapes when we get hurt?
Our skin provides us protection from bacteria. When our skin gets broken, bacteria can get in and cause infection. The Samaritan cleans the man's cuts by pouring wine on them. The alcohol in the wine kills bacteria.
Alcohol stings, though. Oil does not sting because our skin is made from oil. The Samaritan soothes the man's pain by pouring oil on his wounds. Then he bandages the wounds to keep them clean.
Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day
The next day? Goodness, the Samaritan spends so much time with the injured man!
he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, “Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.”
How much time the Samaritan takes!
How much care the Samaritan gives!
Is there anything he did not do??
It is like the Samaritan gives all his time and energy to helping the injured man.
Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?
Jesus asks this question of the lawyer, but we know he asks us, too. We might say that Jesus does not ask a good question, because we all know the answer!
The first question the lawyer asked was "What must I do?"
Jesus answers this question two ways.
Perhaps these are the same.
Perhaps the Samaritan shows us how to be a neighbour.
Perhaps this is how we love.