Who is my neighbor? (Luke 10:29)
Just what was this scribe getting at? Was he trying to narrow the scope of his responsibilities toward other people? Was he trying to see if Jesus would exclude the Roman army or other Gentiles from his definition of neighbor?
Rather than answering directly, Jesus told the parable of the good Samaritan, and he finished by asking which character had been a neighbor to the beaten man. So what was Jesus getting at?
In a sense, he was saying: Dont worry about who is or is not your neighbor. Instead, decide that you will be a neighbor to everyone you meet. Change your perspective this way, and you will end up loving your neighbor as yourself.
Heres a great way to try to put this parable into practice. Spend some time today in a public place, where you can watch people coming and going around youmaybe on a park bench, at a street corner, or in a neighborhood eatery. You can do this also as you kneel at Mass or as you relate with your coworkers. As each person passes by, tell yourself: Thats my neighbor. That homeless man looking for a handouthes your neighbor. The business woman on her cell phone in the thousand-dollar suitshes your neighbor. The young boys skateboarding past you with bored looks on their facestheyre your neighbors. So bless them!
As you do this, youll find your mind awakening to a fuller grasp of what Jesus was trying to tell this scribe. Your neighbor is anyone who needs to know and experience the love and mercy of God right now and thats pretty much everyone.
You may also find questions stirring inside you: I wonder if he has ever experienced Gods love? Whats making him smile so broadly? What burdens is she carrying around? Questions like these are signs that God is opening your eyes to these people: theyre not just your neighbors; theyre part of your family. Theyre the brothers and sisters God has given you to love, to bless, and to honor.
Jesus, open my eyes to see all my neighbors today. Give me compassion to reach out to those in need of your love and mercy. Stretch me beyond my comfort zone, so that I can become more like you.
Galatians 1:6-12, Psalm 111:1-2, 7-10