Daily Office Readings for Thursday of Proper 24: Year 2
“But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29)
Today, we too, want to justify ourselves. More than that, we want to justify ourselves by having others side with us. It no longer matters if we are right as long as we are in the majority.
The lawyer wanted to vindicate himself. He wanted to know the definition of neighbor. Perhaps he thought that by defining neighbor, he might eliminate a lot of people he wouldn’t have to be concerned about. In this way he would be off the hook, so to speak.
Of course this parable goes into the story about the person whom we call the Good Samaritan. In this parable we notice that a priest, and then a Levite, pass by the injured man. Some say that if the man was dead and they touched him, they would then be defiled and could not enter the temple. To this I would ask, what good is a faith tradition if it prevents you from being helpful to others?
So are we off the hook, if the person in need is not on our team, our political party, or have our same skin tone, or speak our language? None of these differences disqualify him or her as a neighbor. But the truth is, that the neighbor was identified not by any of these outward characteristics or even by his faith tradition but by the Samaritan having pity on the injured man and responding to him from compassion. Your neighbor is determined by what’s in you, not who the other person is.
We have our faith traditions in order that such traditions might help us be better neighbors. We do not have neighbors only if they share our looks or tradition. Every human being is our neighbor. We need to ask God to let us see all persons on this planet as our neighbor. We all live on this “earth-hood” and that makes the earth our neighborhood.
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to, and through, the saints of God, and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do. John