The gospel reading for this past Sunday [July 14, 2013] was Luke 10:25-37 where a lawyer inquires of Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life.
Jesus answered him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” I could use many pages to talk about eternal life, but today I just want to pick up on what Jesus went on to teach the lawyer when, “wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’”
This parable is likely familiar to you. While traveling, a man was beaten, robbed, and left for dead on a secluded road between Jerusalem and Jericho. Twice his hope for help was dashed when two religious leaders passed him by. Finally, a Samaritan (whom the Jews despised) … was moved with pity. “He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.”
The lawyer understood what Jesus tried to teach him, evidenced by his answer to Jesus’ question that the man who showed mercy was the neighbor to the man in need. I wonder how many of us recognize this profound truth today. This parable is more than just a nice story to tell children. This story should make all of us ponder whether we are good neighbors.
To whom should we be a neighbor? It could be your geographic neighbor in the apartment building or subdivision where you live. Your neighbor could be the Soldier you work with in the motor pool or office. It could even be an oppressed people group in an unknown part of the world, like Iraq or Afghanistan.
I encourage you to consider the needs of those around you. Don’t allow yourself to turn a blind eye to their suffering, or think that someone else will care for them. Reach out to them. Help them. Be a good neighbor. Then you may be closer to discovering the eternal life, which Jesus offers us all.
This article first appeared in the Fort Leonard Wood Guidon, 18 July 2013.