In today’s first reading, we begin a quick trip through the book of Jonah. Most people are familiar with the story. We heard it when we were little kids. It’s about a guy who gets swallowed up by a whale and gets spat out after three days. But do you know the before and after of the story? If not, then follow along with the first readings for the next few days. There are plenty of lessons that we can learn from the story of Jonah.
Our Gospel reading today is from Luke 10. It is the story of the Good Samaritan. Most people are familiar with the term “Good Samaritan,” if not the Bible story itself. A guy goes on a trip and gets mugged, left for dead on the side of the road. Two “holy” men walk right past him, going out of their way to avoid him. But a Samaritan, someone considered a lowlife and evil by the Jews, had mercy on the man and helped him. Jesus asks, “Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” It is grudgingly acknowledged that the dreaded Samaritan was the one who did the right thing.
What lesson do you take away from this parable of Jesus? As with the story of Jonah, there are many. Like, you can’t judge a book by its cover. Be careful when painting with a broad brush. Beware your own piousness. We are our brother’s keeper, no matter their circumstances. You never know whom God will choose to do His work. I’m sure there are dozens more. And, depending on your station in life, one lesson will no doubt stand out more than others. And over time, we will undoubtedly learn more lessons from this story, as our stories change. Let’s pray that each lesson we learn can be incorporated into our daily lives.
Father, forgive us for those times when we fail to love our neighbor, for whatever reason. Help us to show compassion and mercy to all of our neighbors. Amen.