Who is My Neighbor?

Luke 10: 25-37

I once celebrated Mass in a subdivision clubhouse. After the Mass, during the fellowship, I was talking to two couples, whom I introduced to each other. Couple 1 asked Couple 2, “What is your street?” It turns out that both lived on the same street. Not only that, it turns out that they lived across from each other. How much were they familiar with each other? Couple 1 knew Couple 2 as owning a red Mercedes-Benz. Couple 2 knew Couple 1 as owning the house designed by a famous architect.

In St. Luke’s Gospel, we are asked, WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR? Jesus gives us a story of a person who is in need, and there are three things we can pick up from the story that teaches us how we can be a neighbor to others:

  1. The first person who came across the victim was the Priest. Why did he not help? To touch a dead person would make him unclean. If he is unclean, he cannot perform his priestly duties for days as he would have to undergo cleansing. Hence, a neighbor is one who is willing to reach out despite the inconvenience it causes.
  2. The second person who came across the victim was the Levite. Why did he not help? The Levite was smart. He knew that hold-up robberies were prevalent along that route.  A person would play dead, then when one helps out, a group suddenly appears to rob the person. Hence, a neighbor is one who is willing to risk in helping out.
  3. The third person who came across the victim was a Samaritan. Ironically, Samaritans were rivals of the Jews. If that were true, why did he help? He was able to see through the difference of color and creed. He was able to help despite the inconvenience and the risk. He saw a person in need.

That is why in the Mass, we pray that we may see “a person” with the people around us. Not the color of their skin, not their religious belief, not their looks, not their economic class, not their intellectual capacity, and not whether we can benefit from them or not. We pray, that we see a person created in the image and likeness of God and realize that all our lives are intertwined.

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