Nowhere in today’s Gospel passage does Jesus describe the Samaritan as “good.” Instead, Jesus calls him “neighbor.” Similarly, the priest and the Levite were not judged “bad.” They just weren’t neighborly. Each of us has the capacity to do both good and bad. The difference is whether we can be neighbors.
The priest, Levite, and Samaritan each saw the victimized man; seeing trauma is not a neighborly characteristic. What differentiated the Samaritan from the others was closeness. He did not cross to the other side of the road upon seeing the wounded person. He approached him, touched him, lifted him, sheltered him, shared his resources with him, and invited others to do likewise.The reign of God is at hand. It is something very near to you. You have only to carry it out. Let us be like God, our neighbor, who draws near to us in our suffering. Click To Tweet
Often we distance ourselves from those bearing traumatic wounds of ordinary suffering or systemic oppression. We avoid that part of town and dodge the beggar’s gaze. We wish victims would get over it and those grieving would cheer up. But disengagement makes no demands of us. Indifference takes no risk. Yet God’s “style” is nearness and proximity: “Mercy is made tangible, it becomes closeness, service, care for those in difficulty” (Pope Francis, April 11, 2021, Twitter).
The reign of God is at hand. It is something very near to you. You have only to carry it out. Let us be like God, our neighbor, who draws near to us in our suffering.