“Who is my Neighbor?” by Fr. EJ

For Jesus it was shockingly so simple, loving the neighbor as oneself is taken very literally.

The Story of the lawyer’s question and its answer in parables is a familiar one, not only because we hear it often and it is easy to remember, but because we often find ourselves situated in that story.

The lawyer who puts this test question seems to present it in a minimal way- that are the necessary conditions for salvation. Jesus responds that the law has already covered this question-but asks the lawyer how he interprets the law. He receives a good answer, straight to the master, quoting from the SHEMA (Deut.6:5). Morever, the lawyer adds to it LEV 19: 18 concerning duty to one’s neighbor.

Jesus then responds in effect. “You see yourself how simple it is.” Precisely that is the point being made in the section of Deuteronomy read today. It is not necessary to seek in esoteric sources the meaning of the Law of God, for the essence of the Law is recited in the people’s most common prayers. It comes readily to the lips and is already in their hearts, calling them to observe it.

It is not difficult to understand the lawyer’s question because it is a common human thinking. He asks to have it made quite explicit – sakto – and specific so that he will know exactly now for he must go to observe the law, “Who is my neighbor?”

For Jesus it was shockingly so simple, loving the neighbor as oneself is taken very literally. The neighbor as oneself is to devote all available time, energy, and resources when they are required to help the needy. No doubt the Evangelist wants us to reflect that Jesus himself if the good Samaritan, and that to follow Him is to do likewise.

as published on July 14, 2013, Parish Bulletin

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