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Who is my neighbor

Who is my neighbor, when the whole world wants my attention ?

When a Jewish lawyer asks Jesus Who is my neighbor ? in Luke 10:29, Jesus answers with the parable of the good Samaritan. The parable pictures a Jewish man badly wounded by robbers and left lying on the street side. Thankfully, a priest and a Levite pass by, but they hurry away without helping their own. Then, a Samaritan shows mercy by caring for the wounded man and taking him to an Inn at his own cost. Contrary to the priest and the Levite, Samaritans were foreigners in the land and had no relations to the Jews. Jesus closes the parable by asking, Who is the neighbor? Only the Samaritan showed mercy to the wounded man, and Jesus encourages us to do likewise.

But wanting to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

What does this mean for us today? We live in a world where we are so interconnected that news stories from all over the planet are competing for our attention at almost every waking minute - every crisis, every disaster, and every tragedy feels like it’s our own. Because we seemingly have the misery of humanity creeping inside our world from our phones or TV screens, it is easy to experience an overwhelming feeling that we must save the world by helping everyone and everywhere. But guess what, we can’t. Jesus tells us something crucial in the parable of the good Samaritan. The exclusive group you identify as “your people” (that could be your family, friends, or people with the same nationality) are not your neighbors, and neither is the entire world. Don’t get fooled by thinking you must save the world, Jesus has that under control. If you let all of that pressure get to you, you’ll end up saving no one. What do you actually do with that overwhelming feeling of pressure ? You probably just turn your phone off or switch to another channel. Instead of going for the big disasters, the major catastrophes (take world hunger) that you most likely won’t solve, Jesus tells us that every single person we meet is our neighbor. “The poor you will always have with you” (Matthew 26:11). You can’t feet the entire world, but how about volunteering at a soup kitchen or buying a meal for your struggling friend? Open your eyes wherever you go because every person you meet is your neighbor. You won’t save the world, and this is not what Jesus is asking you to do. Love everyone you meet as yourself, and you’ll be just fine.

“The poor you will always have with you” (Matthew 26:11)

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