No parable is better known than the story of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), and it is a parable about mercy (v. 37). The one-word for mercy in this parable is ‘neighborliness.’
Jesus cuts through theological jargon and religious complexity by using the word ‘neighbor’ to describe mercy. Essentially, Jesus says, ” If someone near you needs something, give it to him.” That’s what the Samaritan did and what the religious leaders failed to do. It is what the one who asked, “Who is my neighbor?” was supposed to do–what we are supposed to do.
Mercy is not complicated. It is being aware of what’s going on around us and contributing good to it. As Jesus said elsewhere, “The Kingdom of God is at hand”–imminent, nearby, within reach, in the present moment. I do not know who will cross my path next, but I already know what I am supposed to do when the next person arrives. I am supposed to be a good neighbor.