Jesus, asked by a lawyer, ‘What must I do to inherit eternal life?’ reminds the man of God’s commandment to love our neighbour. The lawyer, in response, tries to narrow the scope of the commandment. Who is my neighbour? To whom am I obliged to show care and compassion? In a word, what are the limits of love?
Jesus answers the lawyer’s question with the beautiful parable of the Good Samaritan. The Samaritan is moved with compassion for the distressed traveller, and cares for him in the most practical and generous way. He does this in spite of the ancient animosity between Samaritans and Jews. Jesus has turned the lawyer’s question around, from ‘Who is my neighbour?’ to ‘How can I be a good neighbour?’ And his answer is: a good neighbour is one who shows the same unstinting love as the Good Samaritan. Jesus himself will give us the example of love without limits, when he gives his life for us on the Cross. As disciples of Christ, we are called to set no limits to our love, but to be neighbours to everyone.