There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said, "Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus said to him, "What is written in the law? How do you read it?" He said in reply, "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." He replied to him, "You have answered correctly; do this and you will live." But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" Jesus replied, "A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho…
Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers' victim?" He answered, "The one who treated him with mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise." (Lk 10:25-37)
The scholar of the law questions Jesus to test him. He is not interested in knowing something for himself. His interest is only to know how much the other knows. He further questioning is only to justify himself. (Because he wished to justify himself he said to Jesus…) Testing the knowledge of the other and justifying oneself are the means through which the so called scholar works. He is not interested in knowing something for himself or justifies the other.
Neighbour is the one who answers the need of the other or who works to alleviate the suffering of the other. Neighbour is not the one who is next to me or who is in the vicinity of me but who may not have the need of me. I am a neighbour to whoever is in need of me. The quality of the neighbour or the character of the neighbour is ‘showing mercy’.
Jesus does not condemn the robbers or the evil done to the victim. That was not his concern. He did not come to correct the evil doers. He came to establish the kingdom and he wanted its members to be ‘men of mercy’. Jesus came to form neighbours (men of mercy).