Luke is always concerned in his gospel about the outcast and the poor. This morning as Jesus is preaching, a scholar of the law stands up to test him, asking what is necessary to inherit eternal life. Jesus, who often responds to a question with a question, asks him what he reads in the law (Torah) about the matter. The man answers with the two-fold tenet of love of God and love of neighbor and Jesus allows that he is correct. Fine. But the man doesn’t stop there. He comes back with the question, “And who is my neighbor?” which causes Jesus to launch into the parable of the Good Samaritan, the most familiar and one of the best examples in Scripture of the rule about loving one’s neighbor – especially if that neighbor is your country’s sworn enemy. And again, at the end of the telling, Jesus has the scholar answer his own question by asking his assessment of which character in the story was the real neighbor. The only possible answer gives the best exchange of the gospel text – and perhaps one of the best opportunities in Luke’s entire gospel for Jesus to make his point about the crux of life. When the scholar says the neighbor was obviously the one who treated him with mercy, Jesus wins the day by saying, “Go and do likewise.” (LK 10:25-37)
This seems a perfect beginning to the work week (whether or not our “work” is of a traditional nature). We ought, perhaps, to be alert today (and every day, really) to whatever comes our way that requires a response of mercy, that fiercely loving outpouring of ourselves for the good of the world.