“Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he said, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What do you read there?’ He answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.’ And he said to him, ‘You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.’ But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’ (Luke 10:25-29) Our Gospel passage is one of the best know stories in the Bible. The story of the “good Samaritan” is so well known that it is easy to forget the question which prompts it: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” That question prompted by the lawyer’s need to “justify” himself yields Jesus expansive definition of the neighbor. We are tempted along with the lawyer to define our neighbors as those who are close to us or those with whom we have much in common. But Jesus’ story which tells us that even the enemy is our neighbor ruins all that. Our plans of self-justification are broken on that inclusive idea of who all should be loved. However, our self-justification meets its match here. The wideness of God’s mercy and the power of his grace includes us and empowers us to include others. How are you doing on the neighbor definition thing? How are you doing on allowing Jesus to be your only justification? Those interrelated concerns are an ongoing challenge for me, but I am most thankful that we have a Lord who never passes by on the other side of the road! Have a great week.