Luke: 10:29–37 29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 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. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 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. 35 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. 36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Who is my neighbor? We know the correct answer is everyone! And yes, that is biblically correct but is that practically correct? Can I be a good neighbor to everyone? In some ways yes, by cutting back on pollution, caring for the environment, donating to charities, etc. But what about the people on my street or neighborhood? Do I really care enough for the people I come into contact with daily? Is it easier to send money or clothes off to some faraway place where I don’t have to interact with them? God calls us to neighborliness, and for that to be real, we must care for the family across the street, the people who are caught in endless poverty in my city, the struggles of the kids who aren’t “mine” in the school system. I must ask God to show me the neighbors with whom I need to be in more intimate contact.
True neighborliness in this passage is just not the stranger, but anyone God places in my path. In this story, even the community leader passed by the injured person. Too often we are also the one passing people by when we could do something. This story also shows that helping others will cost us something. The Samaritan had to spend some of his own money to help and heal his neighbor. What are we willing to give up, what are we willing to spend to help others be healed? We cannot just send money far off, but we need to look closer for the neighbors in our own lives. God has planted us where we are for a reason. As we enter our communities, help us to see those people he has planted in front of us that we normally wouldn’t reach out to or might even ignore.
Lord help me not to step over others but, to see them, to hear them, and get to know them. Too often Lord, we only see those overseas or far off. Help all of us to see the neighbors who need help and support in our own backyards. Help us realize being a good neighbor will cost us something and be willing to serve others.
In your Holy Name, Amen.