Luke 10:25-37 (NRSV)
Verse 25Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he said, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Verse 26He said to him, "What is written in the law? What do you read there?" Verse 27He answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." Verse 28And he said to him, "You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live." Verse 29But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" Verse 30Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Verse 31Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Verse 32So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. Verse 33But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. Verse 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. Verse 35The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, 'Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.' Verse 36Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?" Verse 37He said, "The one who showed him mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."
A ”Golden Oldies” song goes, “What the world needs now, is love, sweet love.” Love has been around for a long time. We may know we are loved. We may say we love. But it is sometimes so difficult to live out that love in our daily lives.
Most people are “religious” at least in appearance. But it is not what we say but how we live that marks the genuineness of our faith. The lawyer correctly responds to Jesus about the law’s call to a two-fold exercise of love—love God, and love our neighbor. We may seem more easily to affirm the first part of that commitment—loving God. It is the second part that, as for the lawyer, seems more difficult to define or live by, because we know our neighbors are not like us—do not think like us or live like us. They may not be worth our love. Yet, it is not a matter of liking our neighbor but loving our neighbor—which means treating them fairly and caringly. And God has a big neighborhood.
God loves us with all our imperfections and mis-guided ways. The challenge is to love others as God, in Christ, has loved us.
Help us, God, to love you more. And help us to love others as you love us. Amen.