St. Paul attacks the Galatians with the same zeal that he had earlier used to attack the Christians whom he thought were preaching a false doctrine. A crisis threatens the Church, so he directs a withering blast against those who were devaluing the good news by insisting that Jewish traditions must be followed by the new Christians. There is no compulsion to follow rigid traditions. Indeed, the Lord Jesus came to break down barriers between people. In Him there is neither Jew nor Samaritan, slave or free; all are equal.
In the Gospel proclamation we read that the Jewish leaders ignored the dying man, not wanting to get involved. Neither the Jews who were neither priests nor Levites would have complacently settled down to hear that one of their kind stopped and helped the man. When the Lord Jesus chose the Samaritan (a jaw-dropping choice!) to prove His point about loving one’s neighbor, the listening Jews would have been astounded and furious. Jews and Samaritans were traditionally enemies and Jews felt contaminated if they touched them. The Lord Jesus deliberately told his parable to demonstrate His mission – to reveal the character of God. We see the Samaritan going the extra mile by not merely sympathising with the fallen man, but ministering to his needs. Similarly, the all-embracing love of the Father includes sinners, untouchables, and those marginalised by society. The Jews had mistakenly replaced the call to love with an outward show of adhering to traditions. Imagine their reaction when the Lord Jesus exploded their ideas of purity by narrating how a hated Samaritan lived up to God’s demands to love unconditionally.
This is a challenging parable. We may have replaced the Gospel with rules and traditions. We tend to see our neighbours among our relations, ethnic groups, people of our status and our religion while looking down on those who are not part of these groups. We often hear the phrase “They are servants, and should know how to keep their place,” forgetting that we are all made in God’s image, children of the same Father.
Prayer: Abba Father, help me to see those who are in need as my neighbours. Give me the courage to love as you love. Amen.