Who Are Our Neighbors?

3 Oct

“But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him
was moved with compassion at the sight.
He approached the victim,
poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them.
Then he lifted him up on his own animal,
took him to an inn, and cared for him.
The next day he took out two silver coins
and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction,
‘Take care of him.
If you spend more than what I have given you,
I shall repay you on my way back.’
Which of these three, in your opinion,
was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?”
He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.”
Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”  (Lk 10:33-37)

In today’s gospel, a scholar of the law engaged in a discussion with Jesus about what he must do to gain eternal life.  Jesus asked him what he thought.  The scholar responded that it was important to love God and to love his neighbor as himself.  When Jesus commended him upon his answer, the scholar asked him who his neighbor was.

Jesus responded with the story of the Good Samaritan.

That story would have been difficult for people to hear.  There were many reasons for the first two people to ignore the plight of the man who fell among robbers.  They were holy men who were, presumably, on their way to offer sacrifices.  If they would have stopped to help this man who was on the road half dead, they would have risked becoming ritually impure.

God forbid that would happen.

If they became ritually impure, they would not be able to perform their functions at temple.

Jesus, through this parable, reminded those in earshot that the most important function anyone had was to love God and to care for one’s neighbor.  Pure and simple.

Yesterday, we celebrated Respect Life Sunday.  We were reminded that there have been many “neighbors” that have fallen victim to the murderous reality of abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, capital punishment, wars, and a whole host of other evils in this culture of death.

Instead of worrying about ourselves, we need to protect and preserve the lives of our neighbors.

Who are our neighbors?

Look around.  They are everyone we meet!

FAITH ACTION:  If possible, reach out to someone in need whom you usually ignore.  If you cannot do so personally today, pray for those who care for the needs of others without judgment or discrimination.