The Good Samaritan,
Circle of Jacques du Broeucq (1505-1584),
© Sotheby’s Paris, 14 June 2022
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
There was a lawyer who, to disconcert Jesus, stood up and said to him, ‘Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the Law? What do you read there?’ He replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.’ ‘You have answered right,’ said Jesus ‘do this and life is yours.’
But the man was anxious to justify himself and said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’ Jesus replied, ‘A man was once on his way down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of brigands; they took all he had, beat him and then made off, leaving him half dead. Now a priest happened to be travelling down the same road, but when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. In the same way a Levite who came to the place saw him, and passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan traveller who came upon him was moved with compassion when he saw him. He went up and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. He then lifted him on to his own mount, carried him to the inn and looked after him. Next day, he took out two denarii and handed them to the innkeeper. “Look after him,” he said “and on my way back I will make good any extra expense you have.” Which of these three, do you think, proved himself a neighbour to the man who fell into the brigands‘ hands?’ ‘The one who took pity on him’ he replied. Jesus said to him, ‘Go, and do the same yourself.’
Reflection on the Alabaster Plaque
Today's Gospel reading presents us with one of the most celebrated of Jesus’ parables. Like every other parable, Jesus tells us a story set in our familiar material world in order to tell us a spiritual truth. We learn exactly who our neighbour is and how we should treat other people. Our neighbour is anyone who is need. But also, our neighbour is also anyone who can help us. We are both the Samaritan and the wounded traveller.
Our detailed French alabaster plaque, dating to around 1545, depicts (bottom left) the Good Samaritan tending to the wounds of the man attacked by robbers, who is huddled beneath a tree. He then carries him away on his horse (main scene in middle). In the foreground on the right, the priest and the Levite are seen passing by the wounded man. Both figures are seen holding liturgical items, as they were on their way to serve at the temple but failed to attend to the needs of the vulnerable. The architecture in the background suggests the cities of Jericho and Jerusalem, as well as the inn to which the wounded man is carried by the Good Samaritan.
One’s neighbour is anyone in need! Today’s parable tells us clearly that we all have the potential to make God’s compassionate presence tangible to others…
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Readings related to Luke 10:25-37
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Jesus made the Samaritan the “hero” of the story as a way of overcoming the prejudice of the time to certain ethnic groups. Jesus is teaching that his salvation is for all mankind.
Quite right. Much as I saw the parable. If you see the road from Jerusalem to Jericho as I did last week the parable comes very much to life.
The story also expands the new faith (Christianity) out into the whole world in that the good guy is someone from a different culture to all the protagonists of Jesus’ early life. We are no longer talking about a just Jewish derived religion but a universal one. That’s the way I see it!
Thank you Charles
You are right