The Salvation of the Good Samaritan

The Samaritans were not pagans or unbelievers. They practiced an altered version of the Jewish Faith.

{4:19} The woman said to him: “Lord, I see that you are a Prophet.
{4:20} Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, but you say that Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”
{4:21} Jesus said to her: “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you shall worship the Father, neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem.
{4:22} You worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know. For salvation is from the Jews.
{4:23} But the hour is coming, and it is now, when true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth. For the Father also seeks such persons who may worship him.
{4:24} God is Spirit. And so, those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
{4:25} The woman said to him: “I know that the Messiah is coming (who is called the Christ). And then, when he will have arrived, he will announce everything to us.”
{4:26} Jesus said to her: “I am he, the one who is speaking with you.”

On the literal level of meaning, “Salvation is from the Jews” for many reasons, including that the Jewish Faith prepared the way for the Messiah, Mary and Jesus were Jewish, the Jews were entrusted with the beginning of Divine Revelation (Tradition and Scripture), and perhaps other reasons.

But on the spiritual level of meaning, the expression “Salvation is from the Jews” means that salvation is from the Catholic Church, whose origin and roots are traced back to Judaism. For the Old Covenant was established by God as a preparation for the New Covenant. But the Old Covenant was never abrogated; instead, it was transfigured into the New Covenant. And so the Catholic Church is called the New Israel. Jesus was saying both that “Salvation is from the Jews” and, in effect, that “Salvation is from the Catholic Church.”

Now in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus is asked specifically about the path to salvation. But when he asks the expert in the Jewish law to answer his own question, the answer is correct: Love God above all else and love your neighbor as yourself. This is the one path to Heaven.

{10:25} And behold, a certain expert in the law rose up, testing him and saying, “Teacher, what must I do to possess eternal life?”
{10:26} But he said to him: “What is written in the law? How do you read it?”
{10:27} In response, he said: “You shall love the Lord your God from your whole heart, and from your whole soul, and from all your strength, and from all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
{10:28} And he said to him: “You have answered correctly. Do this, and you will live.”

Catholics today ask if a non-Catholic or a non-Christian or a non-believer must convert to be saved. Jesus states unequivocally, If you love God and neighbor (“Do this”), then you will have eternal life (“you will live”). And He gives us a specific example to consider: the parable of the Good Samaritan.

{10:29} But since he wanted to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
{10:30} Then Jesus, taking this up, said: “A certain man descended from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he happened upon robbers, who now also plundered him. And inflicting him with wounds, they went away, leaving him behind, half-alive.
{10:31} And it happened that a certain priest was descending along the same way. And seeing him, he passed by.
{10:32} And similarly a Levite, when he was near the place, also saw him, and he passed by.
{10:33} But a certain Samaritan, being on a journey, came near him. And seeing him, he was moved by mercy.
{10:34} And approaching him, he bound up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. And setting him on his pack animal, he brought him to an inn, and he took care of him.
{10:35} And the next day, he took out two denarii, and he gave them to the proprietor, and he said: ‘Take care of him. And whatever extra you will have spent, I will repay to you at my return.’
{10:36} Which of these three, does it seem to you, was a neighbor to him who fell among the robbers?”
{10:37} Then he said, “The one who acted with mercy toward him.” And Jesus said to him, “Go, and act similarly.”

A Jewish priest and a Levite (the Old Testament equivalent of a monk or nun) pass by the suffering man and ignore him. Despite being of the right religion, Judaism, they did not love their neighbor. These two were not on the path to Heaven. Perhaps they repented, later in life, of their sin of omission, and so reached Heaven. Perhaps not. But the man who does have mercy on his suffering neighbor is a Samaritan — he has the wrong religious beliefs. The Samaritans were to Jews as Protestants (or Jews or Muslims) are to Catholics today — they worship God in a different way; but they lack the fullness of truth found in Catholicism.

Yet Jesus presents the example of the Good Samaritan as an example for all to imitate and as an example of the path to Heaven — the love of neighbor. Even if a person holds mistaken beliefs about God, as the Good Samaritan did, he can still obtain eternal life by the love of neighbor.

{13:8} You should owe nothing to anyone, except so as to love one another. For whoever loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.
{13:9} For example: You shall not commit adultery. You shall not kill. You shall not steal. You shall not speak false testimony. You shall not covet. And if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this word: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
{13:10} The love of neighbor does no harm. Therefore, love is the plenitude of the law.

Everyone who truly loves his neighbor, also truly loves God, at least implicitly. Therefore, even an atheist or an agnostic can obtain eternal life, by the love of neighbor.

Jesus plainly taught that a person does not have to hold correct ideas about God to be saved. For He who said “Salvation is from the Jews”, He who was Himself a Jew and the Messiah of the Jews, rebuked the Jewish priest and Jewish Levite for their lack of love of neighbor, and told everyone to imitate the Good Samaritan — despite his errors in belief.

Little children of God, beware of the Pharisees of today, who claim that non-Christians and non-believers cannot be saved without converting. They oppose the teaching of Jesus in the Gospels. They think that only persons who are like themselves will reach Heaven. They wish to be among the special few who are saved. These modern-day Pharisees would close the door of Heaven for most persons, and then they do not enter themselves because they do not truly love their neighbor. They have contempt for all those who beliefs differ from their own: liberal Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, other believers and especially non-believers.

{23:13} So then: Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! For you close the kingdom of heaven before men. For you yourselves do not enter, and those who are entering, you would not permit to enter.
{23:14} Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! For you consume the houses of widows, praying long prayers. Because of this, you shall receive the greater judgment.
{23:15} Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! For you travel around by sea and by land, in order to make one convert. And when he has been converted, you make him twice the son of Hell that you are yourselves.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and
translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

Forgiveness and Salvation for Everyone
is now available in print (paperback, 510 pp.) and in Kindle format.

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