Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Many catechism teachers, well meaning, teach young and old alike that we are to love our neighbor, and our neighbor is everyone in the world. On one level this is true, but I’ll observe it is not specifically what Jesus says in our Gospel passage this week. When asked, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus responds with a description that tells us the neighbor is someone in proximity, known or unknown, but who is in need. This is someone we have power to care for or to ignore. It is someone we can help or harm.
We live in a startlingly global society these days. I don’t think much about it when I trade a message with a friend who is halfway around the world and we have a conversation in real time. I don’t think much about how amazing it is when we can hear each other’s voices even when we are on different continents. I barely consider my superpower of being able to travel hundreds of miles in a day, have a meeting in a different state and return to my own bed by bedtime. Who is my neighbor? The faster we can move, the more difficult it is to identify that neighbor. The person once distant is almost near. The concerns which two generations ago would have been heard by us after they were over are now broadcast to us real time.
It remains important, and perhaps more important than in previous generations, that we ask ourselves if we are able to do anything meaningful to help in a situation we hear of. Possibly we become concerned with homelessness and poverty in a different country, which is something we should be concerned about. At the same time, we might miss an opportunity to help in our own community, where there is some homelessness and poverty as well. Who is our neighbor? Proximity and a possibility of actually helping is very important.
We love and serve our neighbor. There are plenty of people right near us who need that love and service. As we work locally, the good and care will spread. If all Christians were actively engaged in living and serving their neighbors, there would shortly be no neglected places in the world. The love of God in Christ spreads from one to another.
Love the Lord. Love your neighbor. Don’t give up.
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