But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “and who is my neighbor.” — Luke 10:29
Of course it had to be a lawyer who questions Jesus about what he must do to inherit eternal life, and after correctly answering his own question about loving your neighbor as yourself must act lawyerly and ask Jesus the question that leads into the parable of “The Good Samaritan.”
As it was over two thousand years ago, this famous lead in is relevant today, if not more so. I say that not just because of the massive problems of refugees and immigration, but because of the racial, religious, sexual, and political divides in this country and around the world that challenge the wisdom of Solomon and our understanding of morality.
I would include in the lawyer’s question the dependence of so many who seem to be more and more focused on a tiny screen. “Who is my neighbor takes on a whole new meaning if your neighborhood is defined by video images on Facebook, Twitter, and people on the other end of video games, etc. You might feel closer to someone across the globe who is a Facebook friend, than the person living next door.
The question of “Who is my neighbor” is larger than any of these perplexing problems I identified and so many more, for if we believe our neighbors are only members of our own personal tribe, however one defines a neighbor within their personal circle, then we are doomed eventually to a life of isolation and self-absorption. Where if we recognize that God’s love and mercy flows across all divides, and I mean all, we become good neighbors and overcome the stumbling block of divisions so we can extend mercy and love to all.
“Who is your neighbor?” The question for us all and for this time.