“Who is my neighbor?” (Lk 10: 29)
The teacher of the law wanted to justify himself, hoping that the neighbor he is called to love is one of his own faith and people. This is a natural human instinct. When we invite people to our homes, they are quite often people who share our social status, our outlook on life and our values. There is a human instinct to prefer places of familiarity. This is also true of our ecclesial communities. But Jesus takes the lawyer, and his wider audience, deeper into their own tradition by reminding them of the obligation to welcome and to love all, regardless of religion, culture or social status.
The Gospel teaches that loving those who are like ourselves is not extraordinary. Jesus steers us towards a radical vision of what it means to be human. The parable illustrates in a very visible way what Christ expects from us – to open wide our hearts and walk in his way, loving others as he loves us. In fact, Jesus answers the lawyer with another question: it is not “who is my neighbor,” but, “who proved to be a neighbor to the man in need?”
This is the challenge of the parable today: to whom am I a neighbor?
God of love,
Who writes love in our hearts, instill in us the courage to look beyond ourselves and see the neighbor in those different from ourselves, that we may truly follow Jesus Christ, our brother and our friend, who is Lord, for ever and ever. Amen.