Good Enemies and Bad Friends
Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?”
He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.”
Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:25-37
15th SUNDAY Ordinary Time Cycle C
Who are the Samaritans? To answer this question let us review a bit of Israel’s history.
In 1012 BC the Kingdom of Israel begun with its first king Saul. In 1004 BC Saul was later replaced by David. After expanding his kingdom by waging war with neighboring nations, David was then succeeded by his son Solomon in 965 BC.
It was peaceful then and Solomon, whose name incidentally means “peace”, was able to build the Temple in Jerusalem in the fourth year of his reign. But after him in 926 BC, his two sons fought for succession resulting into the division of Israel into two kingdoms. Jeroboam ruled the Northern Kingdom of Israel while Rehoboam ruled the Southern Kingdom of Judah.
Going down further in 722 BC the Assyrians attacked Israel in the North and bringing the Jews there to Assyria. In 586 BC it was the turn of the Babylonians to attack Judah in the South exiling all to Babylon. But there were some Jews that remained behind after the attacks.
These remnants unfortunately married their pagan neighbors and adopted their heathen practices. The Samaritans sprung from these remaining adulterated Jews. Thus when those exiled finally returned they did not accept the Samaritans.
In the end the Jews and Samaritans had become mutual enemies. This is the background to Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan.
Jesus told the story of a Jew beaten by robbers and left for dead. He was bypassed by his friends or his fellow Jews, a priest and a Levite at that. Most probably their reason for ignoring the victim was to avoid impurity that could ban them from temple services. But a Samaritan his enemy saw him and helped. This enemy did not care for the temple laws as the two Jews except for the supreme law of the love of God and neighbor. Of the three passersby he is the only one that was good. He was a good enemy and the other two were bad friends.
In this story Jesus tells that we could have enemies that are good as well as friends that are bad. How is this possible? As long as enemies follow Jesus’ command of love, they are good. If friends follow all other commands except Jesus’ command of love they are bad.
The invitation is at least to become good too our enemies if we cannot become their friends.
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