Thursday, May 16, 2013

Who is My Neighbor?

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, 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, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii1 and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” Luke 10:25-37

Living in a small town can have its advantages and its challenges. This town, on our little island has less than fourteen miles of road, to one of the island or the other. There are lots of places to explore and in this small town folks are generous and willing to share their knowledge and expertise. Island living makes us interdependent so that we cooperate with our neighbors and support one another as we can.

A bright well trained young man comes to Jesus. He wants to do everything right and has spent his life trying to accomplish things and do all the right things. Jesus challenges him to do more than do the right things. He challenges him. by telling a story, to live with mercy and love first, loving the enemy and the stranger well. We are all challenged by this story of the Good Samaritan. We want to so right but fear and discomfort keep us from living a generous and merciful life. The good news is every day is a new opportunity to make mercy and service our lives.

Today I ask God to help me set aside fear. May generosity, compassion and mercy replace the anxiety of today. May our lives be reborn in the spirit of love, with our eyes wide open to the needs of our neighbors. And may we no longer be blinded to the needs of others, but rather, be every moment inclined to serve others today.

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