In the Gospel of Luke 10 v. 25 -37 we read of an encounter between Jesus the Christ and one of the prominent personalities a lawyer.
V25. On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus ‘ teacher’ he asked ‘ what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
V26; what is written in the law, how do you interpret the law? Jesus replied
V27; He (lawyer) answered ‘ love the Lord with all you heart, with all your mind, with all your soul and love your neighbor as yourself”
V28 You have answered correctly, Jesus replied ‘ do this and you will live”
V29; But he( the lawyer) wanting to justify himself, so he asked Jesus ‘ and who is my Neighbor?”
V30: In reply Jesus said ‘ A man was travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho and on the way he was attacked by robbers, they stripped him of his cloths, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead”
V31: A priest happened to be going down the same road and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side”
V32: So too, as Levite, when he came to the place and saw the man, he passed by on the other side”
V33: But a Samaritan, as he was travelling , came where the man was and when he saw him, he had pity on him”
V34; He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn( clinic) and took care of him”
V35: The next day he took out two silver coins and paid the innkeeper, look after him, he said and when i return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may spend””
V36: Which of the t here (3) do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hand of robbers” Jesus asked
V37; the expert in the law replied and said one who mercy on him” Jesus told him, ; go and do likewise”
The passage says, this lawyer wanted to test Jesus, because he knew what the law demanded but went on to test Jesus. In verse 29, this lawyer in an effort to justify himself, goes on to ask Jesus “ who is my neighbor? When as a lawyer he already knew who his neighbor was. We continue to have people who put others to test for their selfish ends . to say the least, this lawyer was an embarrassment to the legal profession . This country has had its fair share of such lawyers. In the history of this country we have had two(2) chief justices who left that office in shame and disgrace because of misconduct. Several judges and lawyers have been implicated in one scandal or other. Chewing of clients’ money by lawyers is now becoming a norm in this country.
The other characters(personalities in the passage) are the priest and the Levite.
In V31, we read of a priest who was also traveling in the same direction and when he saw the man, he looked the other side and went away. Some books of theology have said that this priest was rushing to go and perform some very import religious functions and according to the Jewish tradition, if he had stopped and touched the man, he was going to be considered un clean and therefore disqualified to perform that religious function . it is for this reason that he decided not to render help to the wounded person. Prophet Isaiah many hears before this incident had said ‘ I desire mercy and not sacrifice. ’ this is the reason why Jesus condemned this priest and regrettably we still have many priests/pastors/deacons/bishops who pay more attention to sacrifices than issues of mercy. They will spend half of the time for sermon talking about tithing, offerings etc and very lift time on issues mercy and justice.
In V32 we read of a levite (another religious person), this man was also rushing to go and attend a very import religious functions and for the same reasons as a priest, he could not help the man. In V33, we read of A Samarita, who was also traveling in the same route and when he saw the man, he had pity and decided to postpone his journey in order to attend to this man. By the way, Samaritan and Jews were arch enemies , BUT Jesus in order to demonstrate the importance of “love” he brings in this story a Samaritan who was an enemy to this man who had fallen into the hands of robbers and it is this Samaritan who renders help, who truly shows love to the injured person. Jesus was saying true love have no boundaries.
JEWS AND SAMARITANS
The Samaritans were a race of people that developed following the Assyrian conquest of the Northern Kingdom around 722 BC. The Assyrians policy was to move conquered people into other parts of the empire. Therefore after they had taken the Israelites into bondage, they then resettled people from other parts of the empire in Northern Kingdom vacated by Israelites and this was mainly in the area around Samaria 2 Kings 17; 6 V 24. The foreigners who came to settle around Samaria were afraid of God of Israel, so in an effort to please the God of Israel “ YAHWEL, they decided to combine worship of Yahwel, with their own religious practices, see 2 Kings 17. 25 -33. They also intermarried with Israelites who were left in the land and the end result was a new racial group called the Samaritans and by the time those Israelites who had been taken into captivity returned home, they found the Samaritans well established in Jerusalem and other parts of Judea.
When the Jews began to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple which had been destroyed by Assyrians and other foreign powers, the Samaritans offered to help, but the Jews rejected the officer. The Jews considered the Samaritans as un clean and a defiled race not worthy to participate in a project such as rebuilding of the Temple. The Samaritans reacted to this kind of treatment angrily and decided to oppose the Jews through out the building of the Temple program. See Ezra 4: 1-5, Neh. 4; 1-9. THE result of these conflict by the two groups forced the Samaritans to organize their own religion, to make it more distinct from the Jews and one such idea was to build a Temple of their own on Mount Gerizim near Samaria. See Deut. 27; 12. This however only increased the hatred between the two groups and continued until the time of Jesus. See John 4:9, Luke 9; 52-54. This is just a brief background of the Jews and Samaritans . In the passage about the wounded man, Jesus picks a Samaritan in his teaching of who a neighbor is, to show that love knows no race
In the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus is revealing the purpose of his coming into this world and that it was to heal and narrow the areas of conflict and that your neighbor is anybody who is in pain. and that the Kingdom that he came to announce had only “ love” as passport for one to qualify into entering it .
(to be continued)
The author is a member of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace)CCJP) and current chairperson of the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection(JCTR) Kasama outreach team.
The author is also recipient of World Bank ‘award’ on good governance. Email : email@example.com.