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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Lawyer Who Didn't Know Where He Lived.

Everyone knows the parable of the good Samaritan, but as we have seen on this show there are many layers of meaning within the word of God. Let’s refresh a bit with the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

Luke 10:30-35 "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, `Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.'

Here is some historical background, in brief. The Samaritans were Israelites who had intermarried with Gentiles and worshipped some place other than Jerusalem. The Jews considered them unclean and worse than Gentiles because they interpreted the scriptures differently. A priest and a Levite might not touch someone who was dying, lest the victim die and the priest or Levite become ritually unclean and unable to serve at the Temple for a time and be unable to offer sacrifice. The Samaritan, who was not obligated by these laws, had a better chance of helping this poor man. Unfortunately, he better understood God’s words to Hosea, “I desire mercy not sacrifice.”

With that in mind, this story is Jesus’ response to the question of “who is my neighbor?” This is the question that a lawyer asks Jesus. Now, the traditional response is that his neighbor is the one who is in need, in this case the man badly beaten on the side of the road. And truly, he is your neighbor, anyone who needs you.

Yet Jesus asks a question after this story. He says in Luke 10:36-37 “Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?" The Lawyer says , "The one who showed mercy on him." And Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."
So Jesus sort of twists the lawyers question back on him. The Lawyer asked “who is MY neighbor?”. Jesus asks the lawyer, “who was neighborly?”

Now this lawyer was probably a Jewish lawyer who would discuss the laws of Moses. So, he was a Bible scholar. Again two different questions were asked; “Who is my neighbor?” and “Who was neighborly?” The answer to the first question of “Who is my neighbor?” is anyone in need. The answer to the second question of “Who was neighborly?” is “The one who showed mercy on him." Namely, the Samaritan.

When Jesus tells the lawyer to “Go and do likewise,” I think He is saying, “Go and do likewise to the Samaritans, because they ARE your neighbors. They literally are, they live just north of Jerusalem. Go and show them mercy. AND the one who is in need” Both are your neighbors.

There seems to be an Old Testament parallel to this story.
In 2 Chronicles, it relates a story of how Northern Israelites took captive people from Judah after a war. Here is what happens:

In 2 Chronicles 28:8-15 The men of Israel took captive two hundred thousand of their kinsfolk, women, sons, and daughters; they also took much spoil from them and brought the spoil to Samaria. But a prophet of the LORD was there, whose name was Oded; and he went out to meet the army that came to Samaria, and said to them, "Behold, because the LORD, the God of your fathers, was angry with Judah, he gave them into your hand, but you have slain them in a rage which has reached up to heaven. And now you intend to subjugate the people of Judah and Jerusalem, male and female, as your slaves. Have you not sins of your own against the LORD your God? Now hear me, and send back the captives from your kinsfolk whom you have taken, for the fierce wrath of the LORD is upon you." [Then some good guys] rose and took the captives, and with the spoil they clothed all that were naked among them; they clothed them, gave them sandals, provided them with food and drink, and anointed them; and carrying all the feeble among them on asses, they brought them to their kinsfolk at Jericho, the city of palm trees. Then they returned to Samaria.

Jesus seems to be bring up a story of a time when the Samaritans were charitable toward the Jews and that they should do likewise.
A spiritual interpretation of this verse is a great one you can use to evangelize both Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

The man leaving Jerusalem and going to Jericho is Adam. He is attacked by the devil and left for dead. The natural priesthood of Noah, Melchizedek, and Abraham, can’t help him. The Levitical priesthood from the time of Moses until Jesus can’t help him. The only one that can help him is Jesus, who is the good Samaritan. He anoints him with the oil of the Holy Spirit and the wine of His Blood and takes him to the inn, the Church. He tells Peter, the keeper of the keys, to take care of him until He returns.


Sharon said...

God spent many years forming the Jewish people by giving laws which separated them from their neighbours. Then Jesus comes along and turns all that God had revealed to them in laws upside down. The Levite priest would have been unclean, by God's law, if he touched a dead body and Jesus expresses displeasure at the Levite obeying God's law. Likewise Jesus healing on the Sabbath - the Jews had been taught that such things were wrong according to the law of God and then Jesus turns everything that they had been taught and believed upside down. I could understand it if He taught them gently that now the laws were going to be modified but He just criticises them for doing what they thought to be right. Could you please explain this to me. It would be like the pope changing overnight the basics of what it means to be a Catholic.

Daniel Egan said...

Sharon, I hope my Bibletidbit on Thursday will help answer this question - if not let me know