If we would ask a child who his neighbor is, the answer will most probably be literal – he would say that his neighbor is the family living beside their house. Or maybe he or she would say that it is his or her playmate. If we would ask the same question to us grown-ups, our answer might be the person who we can call on for help, or who can be trusted.
Jesus challenges us with a different definition of who our neighbor is in the story of the Good Samaritan. In Jesus’ time, the Jews considered the Samaritans their enemies because of their beliefs. But in the parable, Jesus presented the Samaritan as someone who helped the wounded Jew. Jesus teaches us the true meaning of who our neighbors are, and the right attitude we should have towards them. Everyone can be a neighbor. The very Christian thing that one could do is to be a neighbor to others, since it belongs to the greatest commandments of God. The Gospel invites us to be a neighbor, even with our enemies or strangers.
I remember in Fourth Grade when one of my classmates borrowed my crayons for our project. When she returned them a few days later, I discovered that some of the pieces were already broken. At first, I got mad because of what had happened to my crayons. But when I saw her note telling how thankful she as it enabled her to finish the project, I started to calm down. Soon, I forgot about my anger and sadness having realized that I just helped someone. Even through this simple and little way, I understood that I can be of help to others. This childhood experience remains very vivid in my memory. It has allowed me to see the goodness of God in my life.
The Gospel reminds me that I need to be sensitive to the needs of others, whoever and whatever they may be. As a priest-in-process, it helps me to see that becoming a neighbor is an integral part of my future ministry.
By: Sem. Eric Yabut
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?”
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?”
“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.”