Who is returning to us?
In this week's gospel Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan to teach about what it means to be a neighbor, to show mercy, and to love God. In the story the Samaritan helps a man who has been left for dead on the side of the road by bringing him to an inn and leaving two days' wages to cover the cost of his stay and for the innkeeper to attend to him as he recovers. This was an incredibly generous act of love and mercy, going to an incredible length to care for his neighbor. But Jesus does not stop there in the story. To take the man to the inn and pay for his stay would have been enough to make the point, but Jesus then says that the Samaritan tells the innkeeper "when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend." This is something more than a random act of kindness or a one-time act of mercy.
Up to this point in the story the Samaritan had taken a loving action for the man, but the promise to return is something more: it is a commitment to a loving relationship. It is the recognition that their connection, the love of a neighbor, extends beyond individual acts of kindness and mercy into the future, and forms depth of relationship across time. This is the kind of extravagant relationship that Jesus was trying to communicate with the story of the Samaritan, the ongoing support and commitment to people that is required of us to really love our neighbor.
This week, pay attention to the people who love you extravagantly, and not just people who you already know. Who is following up, returning, going beyond what is expected to share God's love with you, even in small ways?