In Judaism and Christianity, the love of God and neighbor is a priority (Deuteronomy 6:5, Leviticus 19:18, and Matthew 22:37-39). According to Jesus one cannot affirm one’s love for God and refuse to love one’s neighbor.
The parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37 is perhaps the best example of this in the Bible. A man traveling the dangerous road from Jerusalem to Jericho was robbed and left for dead. A priest and Levite “passed by on the other side.” A Samaritan came upon the injured man, really “saw” him, and helped him in a number of ways, probably saving his life.
In the story Jesus does not indicate the social status, race or religion of the victim, perhaps intentionally. We do know that Jews and Samaritans had been enemies of one another for hundreds of years. So, Jesus in making the Samaritan the only one who stopped to help the victim, no doubt shocked the Jews who were listening to the story.
Indeed, the scribe who had asked Jesus “Who is my neighbor?” was so stunned that he could not use the name “Samaritan” to describe the correct answer to Jesus’ question (Luke 10:36-37).
As we continue to fight COVID-19, what does Jesus’ parable say to us? It makes clear that those of us who claim to love God must be compassionate to our neighbors in need, regardless of their race, religion, social status, gender or their physical or mental health.
If wearing masks helps prevent the spread of COVID-19, we ought to wear masks (unless there is a medical exemption).
If getting fully vaccinated is the best way to protect ourselves and others, we ought to get fully vaccinated (unless there is a medical exemption). If we care about our fellow human beings, we ought to do everything we can to avoid sickness ourselves and help others to avoid sickness and early death as well.
Will it be “pass by on the other side,” or will we be the neighbors we are supposed to be?
Herbert Hash Jr.