Sunday, July 11, 2010

Who is my neighbor?

But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, `Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.' Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?" He said, "The one who showed him mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise." Luke 10:28-37

Mr. Rodgers always suggested that we were all neighbors and that being neighbors was a simple invitational process. And yet we all know that spies were arrested who were someone's neighbor. We all teach the children to be suspicious of strangers, and life after 911, is a place of worry and concern. Our neighbors should be reported if they look suspicious we are told.

Jesus tells a tale of radical neighborliness, of a mercy and kindness that shattered proud man's assumptions. Our neighbors are the people that are different, that frighten us, that walk to a different beat and speak a different language. We are as likely to receive mercy and help from one who is considered an enemy than one who is a friend. And in our lives of faith, we are to be as willing to cross all barriers in the persuit of mercy and compassion.

Today, I want to remember that God is known most powerfully as we give love away, as we share God's bounty with strangers and friends alike. May we all have the courage to know God as we care for all with mercy and compassion.

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