In Luke’s Gospel, A Torah-Teacher, a Pharisee, approaches Jesus and he asks him, “Rabbi, What is the greatest commandment?”
The answer is obvious: the priests, the Levites, and the Pharisees, all of Israel’s great teachers of the day, had always taught the greatest commandment is The Shema! – or to love God with all of yourself – heart, soul, mind, and strength.
And how do you love God with all of yourself? With the second greatest commandment! Love your neighbor!
But the man wants to know, “Who is my neighbor?”
“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
And then what does Jesus say next?
Does he say a Pharisee came along, saw the half-dead guy and had compassion on him?
He says, “But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’”
Why does the priest avoid the man lying for dead on the road? Because he’s a holy man. Because he knows the Law that says “Don’t touch dead bodies!”
The priest believes the laws of cleanliness are more important than the law to love ones neighbor.
The Levite does the same, walking clear over on the other side of the road (practically walking off the edge of a cliff to avoid loving his neighbor)
And the Samaritan is the only one that knows how to love his neighbor!!! The Jews didn’t even think Samaritans counted as human!
So Jesus says: Go love the person who despises you! Go love the person you hate! Be like the Samaritan in the story and love the Samaritans! – Love your enemies!