Then in Luke 10:25-37 we read that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus drives the point home by telling the story of the good Samaritan. On Sunday most of us will be reminded that the Samaritans and Jews were enemies and that our love of neighbor should extend to the undesirables and enemies in our world.
The result of this preaching may be that many of us will feel inadequate and wonder if we will always fall short of the gospel command. The question is: how do we get from where we are to a state of mind similar to that of the good Samaritan. Why was he able to see a naked, beaten up Jew - an enemy - as someone deserving of compassion, effort and expense? How do we find it in our own hearts?
We don't know anything about this Samaritan, but we can speculate. Kathleen Norris, in Amazing Grace writes that in the original Hebrew the word "salvation" has a worldly, not religious, meaning. It meant to find a safe path out of a narrow and dangerous place. This was surely the situation of the man in the ditch, beating and stripped by robbers. Maybe the Samaritan had himself been "saved' or rescued from a similar danger. If so, he would not have been able to pass the victim by, as did the priest and the Levite. Instead, out of gratitude for his own rescue the Samaritan "approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal,took him to an inn, and cared for him."
It is very hard for any of us, to see another as suffering while we are convinced of our own moral and spiritual superiority. It is only after we become aware of our own shortcomings, and our need for rescue, that we can begin to look on others as the Samaritan did. How do we do this? The best short description that I know is found in Thomas Keating's The Human Condition: Contemplation and Transformation.