Carolina Núñez, associate dean and professor of law at the J. Reuben Clark Law School, spoke at Tuesday’s BYU Devotional about lessons we can learn from the Good Samaritan about loving our neighbors.
Núñez began by telling a story about her father, who was a BYU student in the 1970s. He was not the average BYU student: he was from Venezuela, spoke virtually no English and was Catholic. Even though he was different, the BYU community embraced him.
Like the community loved her father, Núñez shared that we can learn to love those around us. She drew on elements from the story of the Good Samaritan to share three ways we can better love our neighbors.
- Loving personally
In the parable of the Good Samaritan, the service is concrete and up close, Núñez said. The Samaritan physically rescues the man by binding his wounds and paying for his continued care. The Savior asks us to do the same, which requires “getting close to our neighbor and giving of ourselves.”
“We follow the Good Samaritan’s example not by abstractly loving from afar, but by truly connecting and spending time with each other, by genuinely giving of ourselves,” said Núñez.
- Loving those who are different
Another aspect of the story that Núñez highlighted is the identity of the hero. He is a Samaritan, someone very different than the man who needed help. That difference shows that our love for others should not be conditioned on their similarity to us.
“We must find our brothers and sisters who feel marginalized and out of place,” said Núñez.
“A small effort to connect with someone may mean the difference between despair and hope for that person. And we, in turn, may find our life enriched by that connection.”
- Learning from those who are different
Lastly, Núñez discussed how the Samaritan is an outsider in the story, but his example still taught those around him. We can learn from those unlike us. We can be rescued by those unlike us.
“We must reach out to those who are different not only because they may need us, but because we need them,” said Núñez. “Are we humble enough to recognize that the Samaritans in our lives have something to offer us?”
Núñez concluded with a story about traveling back to Venezuela to visit her father. She hadn’t been there in years, and now the country is in the midst of an economic collapse, with many people migrating away. As Núñez returned, she thought about those leaving and where they might build their new homes.
“I hope they have the same luck my father had when he came to BYU. I hope they find Good Samaritans wherever they end up and that they, in turn, are Good Samaritans in their new countries. I hope they encounter fellow travelers in this life who understand that we are here to love each other,” she said.
“We are here to love our brothers and sisters, friends and strangers alike.”