Grammatical Tweak Makes Love Come Alive | Samaritans | Jesus

Grammatical Tweak Makes Love Come Alive

The highly popular Parable of the Good Samaritan has often been used to teach us about love of neighbour which goes beyond our usual comfort zones. We see for instance characters (eg. Priest and Levite) whose life and work were supposed to be about love and care of neighbour, but in the parable they were the first ones to circle around their obligation and avoid the inconvenience of selfsacrificing love. And who would show the love of neighbour that Jesus desired–a character that introduces a subversive detail: the Samaritan–the man who was supposed to be from an enemy camp, one considered by Jews to be hybrids and therefore impure, one from whom love is not expected because of the animosity that existed between Samaritans and Jews. So it would not escape our notice, we can immediately mention here several points about love of neighbour that we draw from the parable–that it involves doing things outside of our usual comfort zones, it involves inconvenience and self-sacrifice, and

it goes beyond the usual confines of whom we consider friends or allies–love of neighbour is inclusive and universal. But in this particular parable, Jesus introduces the revolutionary in an almost imperceptible grammatical tweak in the story. And this tweak merits our noticing and further reflection. In the beginning we see that the scene we are in actually begins with a scholar of the law trying to test and entrap Jesus by asking Jesus what eternal life requires. And so Jesus very casually replies by saying that one will be rewarded with life by fulfilling the first two commandments of the law: love of God and love of neighbor. And then the scholar wanted to further justify himself and so he asked, “but Lord, who is my neighbour?” It’s as if he was asking which people can I include in that group of people who shall be entitled to my love?” The word neighbor in the command “Love your neighbour!” is after all an object and objects can be justifiably qualified and limited to make the law clear. But Jesus can not be outdone in wisdom. Our Lord responds to the scholar with a story and in that

To be “neighbour” is in fact what love makes us become to each other. It is performative. everybody. and as we know that simply means. Characters who traditionally embrace love of neighbor as part of their ministry and life were portrayed in the story as not doing what they ought to be doing. It is not easy to become neighbour to people who are difficult to love or people whom we have not developed a liking for. In Jesus’ world.” And Jesus’ teaching shines brightly: “Go and do likewise.”? How have I tended to delimit which people to include in that circle of “neighbour?” Whom do I tend to include and whom do I tend to exclude? What would I say form part of the dispositions and skills of being “neighbour” to people? How much of those dispositions and skills mark my own love–what am I gifted with or good at? what do I still lack? How do I sense God calling me in this universal command of love of neighbour? We pray that we ourselves feel that God who has chosen to pitch tent and dwell among us has been a consistently loving neighbour to us. “Which of this three was neighbor to the robber’s victim? The scholar couldn’t but have answered in a way that subverts his own biases–”The one who treated him with mercy. Neighbour is subject and not object. neighbour is not an object of love that we discriminate and choose to include or exclude in the universe of people who will be fortunate enough to receive love from us. Instead it was a representative of any enemy people who turns out loving in the end–and loving with a detailed and meticulous personal care that any listener cannot deny or doubt. and more especially before people in need or people set aside for nothing or people who are left vulnerable in a society where loving can become a role or obligation that can be disposed of at will. .” What almost escapes our notice was that Jesus had already tweaked the grammar into this affair of loving neighbour. he asks. Jesus is able to change the configuration of the argument. and so it is a constant choice and struggle.story. with a deep enough love to empower us to be neighbour to others as well. Then the final clincher in Jesus’ strategy. And so we pause and reflect: how have I ordinarily lived this commandment of “love your neighbour as yourself. Neighbour is the kind of person we are called to become before all. But the commandment stays: Love God and be a neighbour to the people whom God loves.

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