And Who is My Neighbor?
July 5, 2022
"And who is my neighbor?" asks a lawyer of Jesus, in this Sunday’s gospel (Luke 10:25-37). The lawyer sought not to deepen his understanding of love and mercy but to justify himself, that is, to be able proudly to say that he “gave at the office.”
Regardless of his motive, Jesus lets him know, in no uncertain terms, who the neighbor is. My neighbor is the person right on my path: my family member, the person in the check-out line, my co-worker, the parishioner three pews behind me, whom I have yet to greet in two years. We need not look far to know whom we are called to love. Folk-rocker Stephen Stills, back in 1970, summarized it in his own way, in a well-known song he penned: “love the one you’re with.” St. Thomas Aquinas, 700 years earlier, says that, “in matters concerning relations between citizens, we should prefer our fellow-citizens”. In other words, well-ordered charity begins at home. Of course, “at home” those most vulnerable beckon our love in a special way. And, when we love, we are then neighbor.
Jesus, thankfully, gives us the love with which we can love all those whom He brings across our path—including people with whom, humanly speaking, we have little in common, people whom we find annoying, people even who have hurt us. Divine love, an unconditional, liberating gift, is offered to us at every moment, and, in a special way, in the Eucharist. Do we ask for it? Try doing so, first thing in the morning, on your knees, if possible. Your life will change, for the oh-so-much-better.
THE REV. DOMINIQUE PERIDANS