To Whom Am I Neighbor

At the end of the text from Leviticus 19 we read yesterday it says, “But you shall love your neighbor as yourself.  I am the Lord.”  And in the gospel lesson from Luke 10, in which Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan, the Lawyer cites that loving God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind, is followed by “and your neighbor as yourself.”  Then the lawyer asks, “and who is my neighbor?”

But as Jesus so often does, he turns the question upside down and points it at ourselves.  At the end of the parable, Jesus asks “Which of the three (Levite, priest or Samaritan) proved to be a neighbor….  Jesus moves the question from who my neighbor is to whom am I to be a neighbor.  To whom do I reach out and help?  To whom do I risk giving help?  To whom do I expend time, money and energy to help?

Jesus says nothing about the worthiness of the man left for dead beside the road.  Perhaps if he had stayed home, where he belonged, he would not have gotten into this predicament.  Maybe he himself was a robber who had gotten beat up by other robbers.  Yet Jesus and the rest of the Bible does not ask the worthiness of someone in need or a foreigner or the poor, or a deaf or blind person, or the woman who poured oil on his head and feet or an orphan or a widow.  Jesus simply says to the Lawyer and to us, “You go, and do likewise.”

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