Parables such as the one of the Good Samaritan in today's gospel are often so familiar that their deeper meaning can get lost in the familiarity. Listening to this story that Jesus uses to teach about love for our neighbor, several things surfaced for me. One is how Jesus uses Samaritans several times throughout the Gospels; the two that stand out for me are today's parable and also His meeting with the Samaritan woman at the well. This is not a mere detail. The Jews listening to Jesus tell about the Good Samaritan understood what a big deal this was~ Samaritans were harshly scorned by the Jews. They were the remnant of Israel who did not worship as the rest of the Jews. The other thought I had while meditating on this passage was that in the Samaritan, mercy came from a person and place least expected.
This is where I started to think about this story as related to life today. The man in today's Gospel is physically beaten and left for dead. The priest and the Levite whom we would expect to come to the aid of the man do not. The Samaritan, the last person the people of Jesus's day would expect, shows the injured man mercy and compassion.
As I look around today, there are many who cross my path who are not so much physically beaten, but beaten up by sin and left spiritually dead. I was one of them, and mercy came to me through a person and place I least expected~ a friend in prison. When I couldn't find the where with all to forgive myself, my friend showed me God's love and mercy, and his prayers led me to receive the healing my wounds, left by a life of sinful behavior, so desperately needed.
Life for each of us is our own Jericho road and we never know who God will put in our paths. Having received God's mercy and experiencing His compassion, I can love my neighbor whoever it may be at any given time and place. I may be the person they least expect, but that doesn't matter for all are my neighbor.