Bible Quotations

My Bible is the Saint Joseph Edition of The New American Bible (Catholic Book Publishing Co., New York, 1970).

The Great Commandment


34When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they assembled in a body; 35and one of them, a lawyer, in an attempt to trip him up, asked him, 36“Teacher, which commandment of the law is the greatest?”  37Jesus said to him: 

“ ‘You shall love the Lord your God
with your whole heart,
with your whole soul,
and with all your mind.’ ”

38This is the greatest and first commandment.  39The second is like it: 

“ ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

40On these two commandments the whole law is based, and the prophets as well.” 

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MARK, 12

28One of the scribes came up, and when he heard them arguing he realized how skillfully Jesus answered them.  He decided to ask him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?”  29Jesus replied: “This is the first: 

‘Hear, O Israel!  The Lord our God is Lord alone!

30Therefore you shall love the Lord your God
with all your heart
with all your soul,
with all your mind,
and with all your strength.’

31This is the second,

‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

There is no other commandment greater than these.”  32The scribe said to him:  “Excellent, Teacher!  You are right in saying, ‘He is the One, there is no other than he.’  33Yes, ‘to love him with all our heart, with all our thoughts and with all our strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves’ is worth more than any burnt offering or sacrifice.”  34Jesus approved the insight of this answer and told him, “You are not far from the reign of God.”  And no one had the courage to ask him any more questions. 

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An Important Contextual Note on the Parable of The Good Samaritan

In the following passage from St. Luke’s gospel, it is important to keep in mind that Judea and Samaria were enemies (cf. Luke 9:51-53; John 4:1-42).  In John 4:9 the evangelist recounts that: 

9The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew.  How can you ask me, a Samaritan and a woman for a drink?”  (Recall that Jews have nothing to do with Samaritans.) 

A footnote for this verse in my Bible explains:  “Samaritan women were regarded as ritually impure, and therefore Jews were forbidden to drink from any vessel they had handled.”  It would appear from this that Samaritans had a different religion than the Jews of Jesus’ time, or at least that they did not follow the laws for the cleanliness of women set forth in Leviticus 15:16-24. 

It must have been quite startling, then, for Jesus’ disciples to hear him tell about a “good Samaritan,” for that phrase would have seemed an oxymoron to Jews of that time.  But Jesus makes it abundantly clear, both in setting forth this parable as he did and in his actions in dealing with Samaritans he met in person, that every person is our neighbor regardless of whether that person lives in a way that is acceptable to our religious values.  It seems noteworthy that the laws set forth in Leviticus are specifically at issue in the passage from John above. 

Now let’s read from St. Luke’s gospel

The Good Samaritan

LUKE, 10

25On one occasion a lawyer stood up to pose him this problem:  “Teacher, what must I do to inherit everlasting life?”  26Jesus answered him:  “What is written in the law?  How do you read it?”  27He replied: 

“You shall love the Lord your God
with all your heart,
with all your soul,
with all your strength,
and with all your mind;
and your neighbor as yourself.”

28Jesus said, “You have answered correctly.  Do this and you shall live.”  29But because he wished to justify himself he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”  30Jesus replied:  “There was a man going down from Jerusalem to Jericho who fell prey to robbers.  They stripped him, beat him, and then went off leaving him half-dead.  31A priest happened to be going down the same road; he saw him but continued on.  32Likewise there was a Levite who came the same way; he saw him and went on.  33But a Samaritan who was journeying along came on him and was moved to pity at the sight.  34He approached him and dressed his wounds, pouring in oil and wine.  He then hoisted him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, where he cared for him.  35The next day he took out two silver pieces and gave them to the innkeeper with the request:  ‘Look after him, and if there is any further expense I will repay you on my way back.’ 

36“Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the man who fell in with the robbers?”  37The answer came, “The one who treated him with compassion.”  Jesus said to him, “Then go and do the same.” 

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Copyright © 1997, 2001 by Charles E. Galvin Jr.  (except for Bible quotations copyright © 1970 by the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine)  All rights reserved. 

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