Who doesn’t love the neighbor who brings our garbage cans in for us when we are working late? Who doesn’t love the neighbor who snow blows our driveway or walkways before we can get to it? Who doesn’t love the neighbor that looks like us, thinks like us and acts the way we expect a good neighbor to act? Loving this type of neighbor is easy.
When we framed the Connecting Point question for the week, the good neighbor is not the neighbor we were thinking about; instead, we were thinking about the neighbor who has a different party affiliation than we do, who may not honor the same faith tradition as us, or someone who may not look or act like we do. Engaging with this neighbor is a bit more challenging, but it may be an opportunity. If we view it as a learning opportunity, asking God what the Divine wants us to learn from this interaction, then we are entering the relationship caring for this person as a part of God’s master plan and with trust that God loves all of creation.
The Samaritan featured in this weekend’s Gospel is labeled good. If all Samaritans were assumed good, he would not have needed this label. In actuality, the thought process at the time this story was recorded was that the people of this region weren’t good. The Samaritan people were most likely Israelites who had “fallen away” from some of the sacred teachings. The Samaritan people were distinctly separate from their kinfolk and were somewhat looked down upon. Yet, Jesus uses Samaritan people (think of the story of the Woman at the Well as well as the Good Samaritan story from this weekend’s Gospel) to teach us lessons.
As we reflect on loving our neighbors, I think it is worthwhile to consider the lessons we are potentially missing out on if we don’t engage with them. Let us pray for the strength and wisdom to engage with these neighbors and learn to love all of God’s creation.