Our neighbour is anyone, and everyone who needs our help
God is love and the only way to come to him is in love. The time for this love is now. And the place for its expression is today’s reality as it meets on the road and stares me in the face. No word has been cheapened so much today as love.
The teachings of Jesus brings out its practical nature in the actions of the Good Samaritan. He saw; he felt pity; and he did something to remedy the situation.
The first step in love is in paying attention to other people. We open up the shutters of our aloofness and see people and hear them. By paying attention to people we are letting them come and to knock on our doors, seeking entry into our lives. Sometimes we erect barriers to prevent people from knocking on our doors. Certain people are barred by prejudice or discrimination. Or we shrink from the demands of love, so we are too busy to hear their knock, or we hide behind a rule, ‘this is no time to come ….’ or, like Robert Frost’s neighbour, we claim that good fences make good neighbours.
The next step is to answer the knock and let the person in. The Samaritan was ‘moved with compassion’ towards the injured traveller. The other two made no move towards him but passed by on the other side. Compassion means accepting the pain of others and responding to it. When others knock on our door compassion lets them in and is willing to reach out to them whether they are asking us to share tears in their sorrow or laughter in their joy, to pity them in their pain or celebrate with their thankfulness, to give to their emptiness or receive from their fullness.
The third step of the good neighbour was to take practical action. Feeling is empty if it does not lead to concrete action. When the need of the ransacked traveller met up with the compassion of the Samaritan the result was the practical generosity which dips into the pocket, forgets about personal convenience and gives.
(Image: The Good Samaritan by Vincent van Gogh)