In my service as a chaplain, I encountered people from many different backgrounds, educational levels, occupations and interest because we were citizen soldiers, but basically part time soldiers until we were called up and deployed. I remember one officer who was very interested in the Bible as literature. He studied the Greek and Hebrew texts to understand the English translation of the scriptures even better, but I never heard him speak about belonging to a church or congregation, never heard him speak about worship or even practice. It left me wondering if he was merely an historian fascinated with the Bible from a historical or literary point of view but not translating it into action. Regrettably I never asked him the question unlike the scholar of the law who tests Jesus by asking: “Teacher what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus does not answer his question but turns the question back on the scholar of the law who then answers by citing the Great Commandment. Jesus commends his answer, but then Jesus indicates it is not enough to know the law, he must put it into practice by loving God and neighbor. It is not enough to know, unless we take what we know and put our compassion into action. Who is our neighbor? Yes, the person who may live next door, or down the street, or even the homeless person who is seeking a safe place to park. We could add, the migrant children unaccompanied by parents, those seeking asylum or safety because of threats to their safety in their own country. Who is our neighbor? The person who is in need of mercy and compassion, in need of feeling safe and well-being, the person seeking employment, a decent wage and the possibility of health care. The person who is seeking affordable housing and only earns minimum wage.
We are so blessed with having an income, a roof over our heads, a reasonable wage or retirement and health care. How can we, in conscience deny others the opportunity to better their lives? It is not enough to know the law and commandments, we must put them into action, showing mercy and compassion to others like Jesus, like the Samaritan in the parable.