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As Jesus concludes his telling of the Parable of the Good Samaritan in Sunday’s Gospel, he said, “Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” [The scholar of the law] answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
Jesus makes it clear that we are to treat all “neighbors” with mercy. That command extends from the frustrating person in our home, to the people next door whose dog barks incessantly, to the homeless beggar we encounter on our way to work or the ballpark, to the refugees seeking asylum in our country. As citizens of the world, we are called to look on every person as our neighbor and treat them with mercy.
Just what is mercy? Pope Francis defines it: “Mercy: the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of every person who looks sincerely into the eyes of his brothers and sisters on the path of life” (Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, April 11, 2015).
It shouldn’t escape our notice that the man in the Gospel who cared for the man who was beaten was a Samaritan. We often automatically pair Samaritan with good. But in Jesus’ time, Jewish people looked down on Samaritans and didn’t interact with them. For Jesus to place a Samaritan in this parable as the hero would have been shocking to his listeners. Yes, Jesus calls us to treat even the “Samaritans” in our lives with mercy.
When have you been a recipient of mercy?
Who has Jesus placed in the path of your life who needs your mercy?
Image credit: iStock.com/LoveTheWind