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Sunday, July 10, 2016

"And who is my neighbor?"

How often Jesus answers a question with a question as he does in this Sunday's Gospel. The scholar of the law asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus asks him, "What is written in the law?" And the man has the right 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."

Then Jesus tells him that he has answered correctly and if he does this he will live. But the man then says, "And who is my neighbor?" That question leads to Jesus telling us the story of the good Samaritan. You remember that a man is set upon by robbers who stripped him and beat him and left him half-dead.  A priest went down that road, saw him, and passed by on the opposite side. Then a Levite came, saw him, and passed by on the opposite side. It was the Samaritan who was moved with compassion, who approached him, tended his wounds, and put him on his own animal to take him to an inn and care for him. The next day he gave the innkeeper money to continue the care and even promised to repay him on his return, if he spent more on the comfort of the poor man. Then Jesus asks, "Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the poor victim?" The man said, "The one who treated him with mercy." Jesus simply says, "Go and do likewise."

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