Who is my neighbor?
“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. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 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. The next day he took out two denarii[c] 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.’ ”Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:29-37
The parable in Luke 10:29-37, speaks to the heart and soul of humanity. I can only speculate why Jesus told this story in response to the question, “Who is my neighbor?” In the lesson a man is robbed and left for dead on the street. A series of people pass by as Jesus tells the story, a Priest, a Levite, and a Samaritan. The Priest and Levite cross the street but the Samaritan stops to help. There is a cultural tone in His choice of characters. The Priest was a religious leader, the Levite a generationally respected member of the society, and the Samaritan was perceived as culturally inferior and a social outcast. I took away from this lesson that being a good neighbor is not about being religious, it is about having empathy and helping others. It also teaches if I believe that my race or social status makes me better than you then I do not ‘see you’ nor care about you as I should. We each need to search ourselves to answer this question truthfully, “Who is my neighbor?”
Injustice For Some Or Justice For All?
We observe the painful living conditions of some in this world and if we have a heart, it breaks. The solutions seem daunting. Ellen Cranley wrote an article in the Business Insider, October 29, 2019 entitled, This Is What Poverty Looks Like In America Right Now. It highlighted an array of facts. Such as 40 million people in America live in poverty. Amazing. She also shares some of their stories. Some sleep in their cars, others live in shelters or temporary housing. Strikingly, many are working poor. In this moment when we are focusing on the injustices in our society, let’s commit ourselves to the divine gifts; hospitality and philanthropy.
Our fundamental core as a society must include kindness and compassion. We must measure success by ‘how many people we help or serve’ instead of how big is our bottom line. Every human being should have the opportunity to reach his/her full potential. I envision a socio-economic system that makes sharing the real power. In this social system everyone can have a good education, healthcare and economic prosperity (whatever that looks like for them). Full participation in our society will usher in growth economically and socially. This is not a fairytale, these are promises introduced to us in our Constitution. These concepts are articulated far better by Marianne Williamson than I. But I do believe in them.
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Jesus’ lesson did not focus on the man’s brokenness rather He emphasized who in society had the solution. What a powerful repositioning of consciousness. He could have made the story about the crime which was the cause of the man’s condition but instead He rallied us around the solution. So awakened people, love one another and help each other. It starts in our hearts but it overflows into our society.
Being willing to stop and look (recognizing maybe I can help in some small way) is part of the solution. Cheryl Naomi Davis
When will things get back to normal?
We hear speeches, see marches, read blogs, and listen to passionate pleas for systemic changes. I like to think of these as opportunities to listen to one another and lift up humanity. One divinely awakened individual can change the world. I know this. I believe this. The one is you. I know it becomes tiring but keep walking. You may be surrounded by darkness but remember you are the light!