“Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’ He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’” vss. 36-37
When we think about loving our neighbor, our first response is to question who our neighbor might be. We look for definitions that would limit our loving responsibilities to those we have an affinity for. Like the lawyer we look to Jesus for an answer. But Jesus really isn’t interested in that question. In response he told the parable of the Good Samaritan, one that has been familiar since our Sunday School days–but he doesn’t present the story as an answer to “Who is my neighbor?” He knows that the question is a diversion, one that can only lead to hair-splitting and speculation. The real issue is not who our neighbor is, but whether we act as neighbors to others, regardless of who they may be. And we do that by showing mercy to any who are in need! For the most part people get this. Humans are capable of great compassion and regularly reach out to help victims and show mercy. Amazingly it’s sometimes the religious who have a tough time in providing assistance. For one reason or another they “walk by on the other side,” and provide selective mercy to those in need. Some even “blame the victim” and argue that people “reap what they sow.” However, when Jesus said, “Go and do likewise,” that’s not what he had in mind!
Thought for the Day: What are the limits of my compassion?