So [the expert in the law] asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” In reply Jesus said: “A man . . . was attacked by robbers. . . .”
From the day I was born until the day I headed off to college, I lived on a family farm in Iowa. We knew who our neighbors were. They lived across the road and down the road from us. We kids attended a country school together. Fathers and sons joined in gathering the harvests, and mothers and daughters joined in feeding everyone. It was a community effort. We were neighbors.
Jesus’ definition is much broader, though. People who are robbed are our neighbors. The Bible also mentions “orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27). And we are not to forget “to show hospitality to strangers” and to “continue to remember those in prison” (Hebrews 13:2-3). Throughout Scripture, we are reminded often to love and care for people who are poor. People in need are our neighbors.
Like the priest and the Levite, our spiritual leaders are our neighbors too. So are our community members, friends, and family. Our own people are our neighbors.
Jesus pointed out especially that the Samaritan was a neighbor. To the Jews in that day, the Samaritans were despised like enemies. People may look different to us, and they may believe and act differently, but they are our neighbors too. Anyone who is other is my neighbor. All.
Creator of all, expand our vision to see all people as our neighbors and to love them as we love ourselves. In Jesus’ name, Amen. (AM)