October 8, 2018
There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test Jesus 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.” Lk_10:25-37
The scholar continued, asking Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus responded with a parable about pride and mercy, where it was the merciful one who turned out to be the best of neighbors. Today we still and often call the merciful neighbor among us, the “Good Samaritan” after this parable.
But maybe the tougher question would have been, “Who is not my neighbor?” Is there anyone in our lives, beloved, who we would consider to not be our neighbor?
We live in a world where, between satellite communication, either audio or video, and air travel, we have access to all countries, all continents around the globe. We have relatives or friends living in Japan and Australia, Alaska and Antarctica. I have visitors to this website from Europe, Africa, Canada, South America, Korea and even Hong-Kong China. And they are all my beloved neighbors. But what about those of other faith beliefs? What about those of warring countries? What about those in my own country who distort the truth for their own (maybe evil) pursuits. Are they not still my neighbor? If we found them in the ditch, suffering the attack of terrorists, would they not still be God’s children who deserve a little mercy?
Maybe instead of finding another nice companion to call our neighbor, we should be looking inside at who it is that we do not call our neighbor, and find it in ourselves to figure out why, and what it would take to change our thinking, our prejudice, or our hatred of them.
In the times of Jesus and St. Francis, and even our own recent past, people who suffered from leprosy were considered outcasts, untouchable and evil. And yet, Jesus, St. Francis and St. Damien of Molokai embraced those lepers as their neighbors, with mercy and love!
Is there any reason we can not be as saintly in our thoughts, words and actions, beloved?
This is what Jesus asks of us!
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