The central theme of today’s gospel reading reminds us that we can attain the eternal life by loving God and loving in our neighbors. The parable of the Good Samaritan is one of the most famous stories of Jesus. The key words in this story are “Compassion and Mercy.” A true neighbor is someone, who shows mercy and compassion to some totally unknown person, who is in need of help!

Here the question is: “Who is my neighbor?” My neighbor is not necessarily a familiar face; my neighbor does not have to be a blood relative. My neighbor may challenge me to adjust or reorder my priorities. My neighbor is an unborn child, a soldier fighting for freedom, a family without enough food on the table, and a patient in hospice care or a nursing home.

We all are called to play good Samaritans in our own life journey by showing our willingness to help others. One day, the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be beaten and robbed as they make their journey through life. The Jericho Road is any place where people are being robbed of their dignity, their material goods, or their value as human beings. Jesus is inviting us to have hearts of mercy and love.

St. Mother Teresa is a good example for us as a modern day Good Samaritan. Her ministry involves picking up the dying, regardless of their religion or race, untouchable or not, to give them a death with dignity. Mother Teresa’s famous saying to us is this: “What you would do for Jesus, whom you cannot see, do for the person in need next to you, whom you can see, and you will be doing it for Jesus.” Another powerful example of a Good Samaritan is Fr. Damien. He was more concerned about the well-being of the lepers than about himself. He helped to raise the lepers up from their misery, which cost him a very serious illness and even his life itself.

At present, our Pope Francis is a good example of a Good Samaritan. Pope Francis said, “All Christians are to become Good Samaritans in their everyday lives. The Samaritan acts with true mercy by binding the man’s wounds, taking him to an inn, and personally taking care of him. To ignore our neighbor means to ignore God. The compassion shown by the Samaritan is an image of the infinite mercy of God, who always sees our needs and draws near to us in love.”

Remember that the road from Jerusalem to Jericho passes right through our homes, parishes, and workplaces. In fact, the “Jericho road” may be inside our own homes, the places where we are taking care of our mothers or fathers, husbands or wives, or our children or our friends. We may find our spouses, children, or parents lying “wounded” by bitter words or criticisms or by deliberate forms of verbal, emotional, or physical abuse. Hence, Jesus invites us to have hearts of love and mercy. What God wants more than anything is for us to show our love and compassion to others, in our homes, in our workplaces, and in our neighborhoods, as the Good Samaritan did! We all are called to be good Samaritans by taking care of the needs of the people. Like good Samaritans, we need to take extra steps and risks to approach the victims and we have to pour the oil of love and compassion over their wounds and bring victims back to life. Today, Jesus is challenging each of us by saying: “Go and do likewise!” Let us ask ourselves: Are we ready to open our hearts of “inns” for others to be places of peace and comfort?