Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself. – Matthew 19:19
A lot is written about what is meant by the words – our neighbor. Surely our neighbor doesn’t just mean our friends or the couple next door. “Our neighbor” begins with one’s spouse, one’s children, and family and sometimes Christ’s admonition “love thy neighbor” when it applies to family is very hard to carry out. But today a different kind of neighbor comes to my meditation. It’s the deserted friend whom no one else looks after. The abandonment isn’t often even purposeful. Distance, no longer common interests, an insult no one even remembers, or one of nature’s cruelest abandonment — illness or disease which causes the neighbor not to even know you anymore — all keep us away from our neighbors and love fades. God calls us to do something about those neighbors who are deserted, just as much as the neighbor in the same house or down the block.
I had teammates who played a violent sport and because I do, I now know people whose memory is rapidly fading. They may remember the touchdown they scored or the block they missed, but they can’t remember whether they ate lunch or bathed an hour earlier. It is easy to find excuses to abandon those memory challenged individuals. We say, “They won’t remember I called or dropped by anyway.” When a person’s mind deserts them, we each have a greater obligation to not do the same. Maybe my call or visit won’t register in their lost short term memory, but I believe it registers somewhere, maybe to be recalled when the long term memory kicks in.
Desertion takes on many shapes including one of the worst — when we desert ourselves and our principles. When desertion comes to that neighbor – ourselves – it is definitely time to remember that neighbor and pay him or her a call?
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