I read somewhere that common sense should really be called something else, because it’s not really all that common. For example, if you were walking down the lane and saw a man bruised and beaten, lying in his own blood, wouldn’t common sense tell you to help him? What kind of person walks past a man in that condition?
There were reasons to excuse the Levite and the priest. Jewish law decreed that coming into contact with someone else’s blood rendered you ritually unclean. And if a priest or Levite were to become unclean, he wouldn’t be able to minister in the Temple until a certain amount of time had passed or until he had offered a sacrifice to purify himself. But if you find yourself debating between ritual impurity and the life of a wounded man, there really should be no question. Of course you should help the man and then do whatever you need to do in order to become pure again.
Ironically, it’s the Samaritan who shows both common sense and compassion. And the man he stops to help is most likely a Jew. He helps one of the people who looked down on Samaritans as unworthy of their time or attention. None of that mattered. Someone was in need, and he knew he had to help. Unlike the two men who passed by on the other side of the road, the Samaritan was willing to get his hands dirty in order to help someone in need. He showed what it means to love our neighbour. In a sense, he reveals the truth behind St. Peter’s saying that “love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
Our Lord wants to tell us today that our neighbour is everyone. He wants to tell us that our love shouldn’t be limited only to those we like or get on with. We should never be afraid to get our hands dirty as we manifest God’s love and truth to the people around us.