Only you know if you have a hate or an avoid list. Are there people who you would not welcome to buy the house next door?

When Jesus was ask and who is my neighbor he replied.

“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half-dead.  Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side.  So likewise a Levite, when he came and saw him, passed by on the other side.  But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.  And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper saying, “Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.”  Which of these three, do you think proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?  He said “The one who showed mercy on him.”  And Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Luke 10: 29-37

As you study this parable remember Christians are commanded to love thy neighbor as thyself.  This parable left no doubt about who is thy neighbor—for a Jew the neighbor was a social outcast, the most hated person who Jews avoided—a Samaritan.

Jesus did not share the Jews hate for Samaritans or avoid them.  See Luke 9: 51-52 and John 4: 7-42 for instances where Jesus stayed in Samaria and had contact with the Samaritan people

Also worthy of note is the man beaten and left half dead was a Jew and the people who observed his suffering and passed on the other side were Jews.  The religious leader of the Temple a priest—a man similar to our modern day ministers, priests, Rabbi’s, preachers-- and a Levite a temple worker—a man similar to our modern day workers in the churches or places of worship.

This parable, is considered the best-known parable of Jesus, and has inspired paintings, sculptures, poems and films and many hospitals and charitable organizations are named after the Good Samaritan.

Samaria was a small area located between Galilee on the north and Judea on the south. Jews hated Samaritans and avoided all contact with them.  The Jews hatred for Samaritans was so intense that when traveling between Judea and Galilee they would take a longer, six day journey along the Jordan River valley rather than taking the shorter route through Samaria.

Just as in Jesus time many countries in the world today have bitter hatred for other countries.    Sixty two years after Israel was accepted as a member nation of the U.N 36 countries, 30 of which are under Muslim control, do not recognize Israel as a nation and have no diplomatic relations with Israel. The list of countries who express hatred for America seems to grow longer every day.  The countries of the world are so busy expressing hate and making war against each other they fail to see, or if they saw they have failed to show compassion and mercy for the 870 million people in the world suffering from chronic undernourishment or the 10.9 million children dying each year due to poor nutrition. 

Recent studies on American attitudes at the University of Minnesota found the top four   most hated groups in America, groups people wished to avoid, were Atheists, Muslims, Homosexuals, and Mexicans.  Americans are so busy expressing hate for the people in these groups they have failed to see or show compassion for the 48 million American households that do not have adequate food. 

Only you know if you have a hate or an avoid list.  Are there people who you would not welcome to buy the house next door? People who you would not like as a teacher for your children?  People who you would avoid in social gatherings?  People who you would you not welcome into your home?  People who you would avoid because of their politics? 

Only you know whether you have been a “neighbor” to the people suffering from the “beatings” inflicted by the pain of daily living on those you may have encountered along your road of life.  When your conduct is judged by the parable of the Good Samaritan would your life be best described as a life filled with  “compassion and mercy” or  as a life spent  “passing by on the other side.”

(Paul Rawlings of Heber Springs contributes his “progressive” viewpoint each week to the The Sun-Times.  He writes a blog at