The Good Samaritan story was a genius example to help us understand who our neighbor is. It also shows us what being a poor neighbor looks like.
Jesus affirmed the man’s question about eternal life. This is what you must do to live. “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Living in a neighborhood, we often think that our neighbors are those living close by. Jesus opens our eyes to the real meaning.
To be a good neighbor you need to be present. We see two examples of folks, upright and presumably spiritual, who did not do the right thing. Were these folks too busy? Where these folks afraid to get their hands dirty? They were Jewish, just like the beaten down man, so it wasn’t like they were afraid of helping a foreigner. Did they fear for their own lives? Perhaps the greedy bandits were still nearby ready to pounce on their next victim.
When we see the Samaritan, we see someone who was of a different background, ethnicity from the victim here. Jews and Samaritans were not friendly, yet that didn’t stop the man from helping. He saw a person in need, didn’t ask for credentials, didn’t ask for retribution or payback. He simply helped.
The man showed mercy to the other. Jesus said we should “now go and do the same.” What does that look like for us today? As I write this, there is so much division and hard feelings about immigration laws in the United States. Living here in Mexico, we’ve been blessed to feel very welcome by this culture and our “neighbors.” I’m not sure they would feel the same if they were to try to live in the U.S. For hundreds of years, people of all nationalities have flooded the shores of the United States looking for a refuge, a new life. My own ancestors came from Europe and tried to fit in.
Our “neighbors” can look like us or not look like us. What’s important to take from this story is that we need to have mercy on them, love them, like we love ourselves.
We should not forget–the most important commandment is to love God with our whole heart, soul, strength and mind. This may mean we need to flush ourselves of selfish desires and schemes. Can you truly say you love God the most? Take a moment now to sit quietly with God. Close your eyes and let that love flow back and forth. Feel refreshed and renewed.
If we truly focus on loving God and pleasing him, our relationships with other people should also improve. We know our second commandment is to love others. This clearly does NOT mean only those that look like us, act like us, or think like us. Our neighbors include everyone. We should never be like the priest or church worker who turn away and avoid an opportunity to bless their fellow man.
Not everybody has to move abroad to find new neighbors. There are people all over the planet, and each one is a neighbor. When is the last time you were “neighborly”, going out of your way to help or serve someone you didn’t know? Don’t kick yourself now for lost opportunities, but let that inspire you to do something different. Ask God to show you where the needs are.
Let’s pray. Father God, there is so much need around me. Help me to see the neighbors you’d like me to bless today. May I freely share a word from you to brighten their day, encourage and share your peace. Thank you for putting me in a place where I can be free to share. I pray for all of my sisters and brothers around the world in areas of doom and terror. Bless them today as they, too, look to love their neighbors. I pray for people who don’t know of your outstanding love for them. Circle people around them to bring them mercy and open their hearts to accept you. Above all, I love you Lord with every inch of my being. In Jesus’ name. Amen.