The Curmudgeon


Thursday, June 23, 2005


A scholar who had heard Jesus' commandment to love his neighbour as himself, and who lived in a crowded tenement, feared lest his love might be spread too thinly to do any noticeable good. He therefore approached Jesus one day and asked, "Rabbi, who is my neighbour?"

Jesus said, "A man was travelling on foot from Jerusalem to Jericho, trusting in God to protect him on the dangerous roads. On a particularly trustworthy stretch of public highway, he was set upon by thieves who beat him senseless and took everything he had, including his clothes.

"After some little time, a Levite approached and saw the man's unconscious form; and, bethinking himself of the peril he was in, hurried on his way. Later a Pharisee came along and, crossing to the other side of the road lest any groans disturb his virtuous meditations, fled from the spot as fast as he could go.

"Then a Samaritan came along and saw the man. The Samaritan gave the man water, bound up his wounds, wrapped him in his best blankets and set him on his own camel. He took the victim to an inn and paid the proprietor generously to look after him, promising more should the man be well again when the Samaritan returned that way in a few days' time. Now," said Jesus, "in the eyes of God, who was the best neighbour to that man?"

The scholar shifted feet and averted his gaze, and fiddled with his robe; but he could not escape Jesus' meaning. "The Samaritan, I suppose," he mumbled at last.

"Far from it," said Jesus. "In the eyes of God, the man's best neighbours were the men who robbed him. They relieved him of the spiritual burden of his worldly goods, and they failed to deposit him in the Lord's paradisiac bosom only through excusable haste."


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