Tag Archives: Good Samaritan

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

“The Parable of the Good Samaritan”
Luke 10:25-37 “in a snailshell”
Monday of the Twenty-Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” He said in reply, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” He replied to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.”

But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.’ Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Luke 10:25-37

Something Greater than Solomon and Jonah

King Solomon, Russian icon from the first quarter of the 18th century. (Iconostasis of Kizhi Monastery, Russia)

28th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday (Year II)

Luke 11:29-32 

While still more people gathered in the crowd, Jesus said to them, “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah. Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. At the judgment the queen of the south will rise with the men of this generation and she will condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and there is something greater than Solomon here. At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because at the preaching of Jonah they repented, and there is something greater than Jonah here.”

Solomon and Jonah were larger than life legends in the Hebrew tradition. Their names and stories evoked a rich and colorful tapestry of images and associations.

Solomon’s wisdom was “as vast as the sand on the seashore” and ambassadors from every corner of the earth flocked to hear his wisdom (I Kings 5:10-14). The original Jerusalem Temple  constructed under his reign staggered the nations with its magnificent design and carvings in splendid gold, silver, bronze, stone, cedar and pine. The king’s palace, which took almost twice as long to build, bedazzled visitors with its opulence and grandeur. 

When the queen of Sheba witnessed Solomon’s great wisdom, the house he had built, the food at his table, the seating of his ministers, the attendance and dress of his waiters, his servers, and the burnt offerings he offered in the house of the Lord, it took her breath away (I Kings 10:4-5).

Like Solomon, the prophet Jonah commanded the attention of foreigners and turned them toward Israel’s God. The “fantastic repentance of the Assyrians” that included even the animals  underscored God’s great mercy and impartiality toward Jews and Gentiles alike (Jonah 3:4-10).1 The familiar story of the disobedient prophet who converted their worst enemies had an effect on the Hebrews similar to that of Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan. “The parable presupposes that most Jews would have regarded ‘good Samaritan’ as a contradiction in terms.”2

Solomon and Jonah had acquired mythic proportions in the Hebrew imagination. “Something greater” than the legendary king and prophet was Jesus’ way of connecting with his contemporaries and moving them toward accepting his claim of divine sonship. If a pagan queen and the idolatrous Ninevites could recognize the wisdom of the LORD, how much more should the children of Israel, Jesus lamented. 

Unlike Solomon, Jesus came as a poor and meek king “riding on an ass,” and unlike Jonah, Jesus was “obedient to death, even death on a cross” (Matthew 21:5; Philippians 2:8). The enduring impact of Christ’s love for humankind that has transformed lives and raised saints through the centuries more than testify to the historicity and reality of the one “greater than” Solomon and Jonah.

-GMC

Related post: The Sign of Jonah

1 According to the Reading Guide to Jonah in The Catholic Study Bible, “The author of this passage is not concerned with historical plausibility—everyone knew that Assyria had never turned from its ‘evil way.’ The fantastic repentance of the Assyrians simply adds to the enjoyment of the tale” (RG 369).

Roland E. Murphy, O. Carm. writes:

“The interpretation of the book as history has lost ground in modern times. Were history the intention of the author one would expect names (e.g. of the king of Nineveh) and details, and there would be more concern to explain the implausibilities and the series of remarkable coincidences. The climax of these is the sudden and complete conversion of the Ninevites. There is no opposition, no motivation except Jonah’s proclamation of the threat, yet a tremendous conversion of the entire population of a large city takes place—without leaving another trace in the Bible or in history—a conversion which Israel never attained realized by the people who destroyed her. The historicity of the account has been defended primarily because of Jesus’ reference to the ‘sign of Jonah’ (Matt. 12:38-42; 16:4; Luke 11:29-32); but the story existed in the OT and this was enough basis for Jesus to refer to it. Interestingly enough, the sign itself was variously interpreted in the NT era, as a comparison of Matt. with Luke shows.”

Cited from The Interpreter’s One-Volume Commentary on the Bible, edited by Charles M. Laymon (Nashville: Abingdon Press), p. 480.

2 The Catholic Study Bible, RG 369.

The Good Samaritan

The Good Samaritan

27th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday (Year II)

Luke 10:25-37

Jesus’ growing reputation for wisdom drew the religious authorities of his day to come and probe his mind. Was he well versed in the Torah and traditions of Judaism? Was his orthodoxy sound? Did he speak their language? Could he be counted as “one of us”?

There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test Jesus and said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” 

Like a good teacher, Jesus drew the answer from his inquirer.

He said in reply, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 

The scholar cited Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18, the double commandment of love of God and neighbor familiar to the scribes and lawyers. So familiar, in fact, that knowing was often confused with doing. 

He replied to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” 

A+. The scholar passed the oral exam with flying colors. Having the “right answers” and formulating precise definitions were the expertise of the intellectual. But to put theory into action? Jesus had only one piece of advice, “Do it.”

This unsettled the scholar, so he opened his mouth again to receive further clarification. Surely Jesus was not suggesting that he was wanting in his religious observance…?

But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus,  “And who is my neighbor?” 

Distinctions, distinctions! The intellectual games of dissection and analysis, definitions and distinctions, sent players on a head trip far away from the plain truth right in front of them. Jesus told a story to awaken consciences buried under layers of “knowledge” and “orthodoxy.”

Jesus replied, “A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. 

This infamous road along an isolated, inhospitable mountain pass was known as “The Bloody Way” swarming with thieves and outlaws. Traveling alone on this road was precarious.

They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side.

No reason is given for the priest’s neglect of the savagely beaten man obviously in need of help. Perhaps it was a corpse? The priest could bury the man, but then he would have to deal with the inconvenience of being “unclean” for seven days after touching a corpse (Numbers 19:11). 

Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. 

Levites were also hyper-conscious of ritual purity. Corpse-contamination was forbidden except for his closest relatives (Leviticus 21:1-3). Neither the priest nor the Levite ventured close enough to find out whether he was dead or alive.

But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight.

Mention of a Samaritan sent a shudder through the Jews. Samaria was overrun by unclean heretics of a cult. Their religion was syncretistic—a mixture of Jewish and Gentile practices and beliefs. Intermarriage with foreigners made them abominable enemies.

The third passerby, the unexpected hero of the story, dropped his plans for the day to help the wounded man. He was “moved with compassion” (splagchnizomai), moved in the inward parts or entrails—heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys—in the seat of his affections.

He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn, and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.’

Jesus gave a detailed description of the Samaritan’s every action from start to finish, a soul-stirring account of selfless love in stark contrast to the cold neglect of the priest and Levite. With his own hands he cleansed and soothed the victim’s wounds. He stayed overnight with the wounded stranger at an inn, feeding and sheltering him. Having the trust of the innkeeper, he turned over the care of the patient to him with the promise to pay every penny necessary to get him back on his feet.

Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.”

The heart detects true love and mercy instinctively. The scholar, though inwardly divided by his calculating intellect, unfailingly recognized the nobility of the Samaritan traveler and reluctantly admitted it. His heart was alive, but covered with the dust and cobwebs of definitions and distinctions. 

Jesus seems to have changed the question from “Who is my neighbor?” to “Who is the true neighbor to others?” but they are one and same question. Helper and helped are neighbors one to another. God makes no distinctions among persons. 

With this parable, Jesus awakens the whole person to perceive reality as it truly is: with all the heart (kardia), with all the soul (psuché), with all the strength (ischus), and with all the mind (dianoia). Love of God and neighbor involves the whole person (Luke 10:27).

Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

-GMC