“Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he said, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What do you read there?’ 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 given the right answer; do this, and you will live.’
But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’” (Luke 10:25-29)
This is the event in Luke’s gospel that precipitates Jesus telling what might be his most famous parable, commonly referred to as the Parable of the Good Samaritan. We learn from the parable that Jesus answers, unequivocally, that everyone is our neighbor. There is no one outside of our neighbourhood, no one outside of our human family.
We are living in a season that calls this mandate of Jesus to mind in real and challenging ways. The stranger in the store is my neighbour, deserving of my love and compassion and concern, shown by the mask I wear to protect them more than myself. The child I will never meet deserves a better future than the one currently allowed due to systemic racism, and Jesus’s mandate means I must be concerned for this child as much as my own. The police officer faithfully protecting her community and showing concern for her neighbors deserves my respect and support. The person on the street waving banners that support ideas entirely antithetical to everything I stand for, even he is my neighbor and deserving of my love and compassion.
“Who is my neighbor?” We are reminded not to ask Jesus a question the answer to which we might not like. But it is the answer we need to hear and need to be challenged to live into.
Thank you for being my neighbor, for extending love and compassion and grace to me as we live in community. Thank you for faithfully striving to be a neighbor to stranger and friend alike. Thank you for all you do to be a good neighbor to all with whom you come in contact in your daily lives. My prayers are with you and us all as we renew our commitment to this mission shown as love, compassion, and grace.