How to be a Neighbor


Luke 10:25-37
Jon 1:1—2:1,11 / Psa 2:2-5,8

Love your neighbor as yourself.
(Luke 10:28)

Show us how to love our neighbors
When we are faced with doubt or fear,
Remind us of all your favors,
So that from prejudice steer clear.

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” He answered, “‘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, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” And Jesus told him, “You have answered correctly. Do this and you will live.” But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:25-37)

Reflection

As God is omniscient, Jesus knew what was in the mind of the scribe when the latter asked who his “neighbor” was. The Jews were very particular about who they would regard as their “neighbor”, and they especially considered the half-breed Samaritans as the most despicable, only one rung higher than the Romans, and would hardly qualify as their neighbors. The purpose of Jesus in presenting the good Samaritan as a kindly, compassionate neighbor where the first two Jews (religious leaders at that) failed to perform their duty as a good neighbor was to rebuke them in a subtle way for their negative attitude towards those who were not of their culture or tribe. In truth, the Jews at that time were the most racist tribe in Palestine. In fact, the lawyer could not even mention the word “Samaritan” when he answered correctly who the true neighbor was to the man who fell victim to the robbers.

If love is the bridge that can build meaningful relationships among different nationalities or religions, then prejudice must be the wall and greatest obstacle in preventing it. The world would be a better place to live in if only more people would try to trust each other rather than be wary of our neighbor’s intentions. Why do a lot of people who have more than what they need to live comfortably choose not to be good Samaritans to so many others who are sick, or hardly able to support themselves? Because of prejudice and mistrust. Because of the fear that these hapless individuals would become dependent on them. The bible tells us that perfect love drives out fear. What must we do to be able to inherit eternal life? Simple. Follow the advice of our Lord to that scribe: “Go and do likewise.” Take a risk, and love your neighbor as yourself; and God will love you back.

Lord God, You have shown us by the example of our Savior, Jesus Christ how to be a neighbor to those in need. Move our hearts to be more generous and charitable to Your “little ones”, for this is the way to inherit eternal life. Amen.

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