In our Gospel today, a lawyer asks Jesus to summarise the whole Law down to a single saying, that is, to love God with everything we have, and to love our neighbour as ourselves “Do this,” says Jesus, “and you will live”. But the lawyer wants a more specific answer. “Who is my neighbour?” he asks. Jesus responds with the Parable of the Good Samaritan. “Go and do likewise,” he says.
Jesus keeps trying to get us to see the simple need. God has given us open hearts to receive his love and pass it on to others. We have difficulty loving our neighbour because we do not understand the word “neighbour”, as Jesus does. Neighbour, for us, can mean the people we love, the people who are on our side, who work for a living, and who mind their own business. But Jesus redefines “neighbour” as the hated stranger, who is down and out, challenging us to stop what we are doing, and care for another’s need.
To love our neighbour, as defined by Jesus, is to love God.