OUR OPINION: Overcoming assumptions in giving acts of mercy

Overcoming misperceptions, no matter how wrong-headed, is difficult. The biblical story of the Good Samaritan is a powerful instruction in how worth should be measured.

The narrative of the Parable of the Good Samaritan is in Luke 10:25-37.

• • •

Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”

But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, 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 while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

• • •

As many people who engage in acts of compassion, charity and decency understand, helping others can get pretty messy.

Everyone is a neighbor. Those often are words that come close to choking the most selfless impulse.

People, as fellow creatures, all are neighbors.

Jesus asked the lawyer, “Who acted like a neighbor?” “The one who showed him mercy” he replied. “Then go and do likewise.”