In the Gospel of Luke, when Jesus proclaims what is often referred to as the Paramount Command, he gives two important edicts and both involve one function: to love. Jesus meant for love to serve as the bedrock of our understanding of God and our high calling before Him.
We understand love; it is patient, kind, compassionate. It protects and perseveres; it never changes. However, in our present day, what we must redefine is, who is our neighbor?
This happens to be the exact next question Jesus gets asked in this passage of scripture. And in response, Jesus gives the parable of the Good Samaritan.
He tells the story of a young man who encounters robbers on a journey from Jerusalem. The thieves proceed to take all of his belongings, beat him, and leave him for dead on the side of the road. Wounded and naked, the man suffers alone. But a Samaritan happens to be traveling the same road. He sees the poor man in his suffering and is moved with compassion to help him. He nurses his wounds and provides shelter for him to recover. The compassionate Samaritan, Jesus declares, is the one who treated the man as a neighbor.
Similarly, we are called to respond with love to those who suffer. When we see people who hunger and thirst, who have lost their homes and livelihoods, who are victims of injustice, who have been afflicted by violence and war, we are not to look away and ignore it.
We are called to care and provide for those in need. Such acts are tangible displays of love that reflect the goodness of God.
The beauty of it is this: when we allow God to work through us in this way, aligning our wills to His word, we are evoking the Spirit of God to distend ever wider in our lives and in the lives of those we encounter. Thus, we build His kingdom, giving room for His love and goodness to reign in place of selfishness and deceit, allowing light to pierce the darkest parts of our world.