Who Is My Neighbor Anyway?

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Who is your neighbor? Is it the person who lives next door to you or perhaps the person down the street. Webster’s defines neighbor as “one living or located near another”.

Mister Rogers opening song on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood:

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood
A beautiful day for a neighbor
Could you be mine?
Would you be mine?

It’s a neighborly day in this beautywood,
A neighborly day for a beauty,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?

I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you,
I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.

So let’s make the most of this beautiful day,
Since we’re together, we might as well say,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won’t you be my neighbor?

Won’t you please,
Won’t you please,
Please won’t you be my neighbor?

source: https://www.lyricsondemand.com/tvthemes/mrrogersneighborhoodlyrics.html

Every child wanted to be Mister Rogers’ neighbor. ID network hosts a show called ‘Fear Thy Neighbor’ a true crime documentary television series about feuds between neighbors which usually escalate into tragedies.

So, who is our neighbor? Jesus seemed to have a different take.

There was a story in the news recently about a elderly man from Mexico visiting his family in California. One day, while taking his daily walk to the park he passed by a black woman and her daughter. The woman began to attack him with a concrete brick for no apparent reason. The woman also ran to get several me to help her. They began to kick the man over and over again.  He was told to ‘go back to your country.’  Later it was revealed that the gentleman bumped into the young girl while walking on the sidewalk. Fortunately, a passerby stopped and called the police.  A suspect has been arrested by the police. I can’t fathom why someone would do such a thing. Unbelievable!

This story reminded me of the story about the “Good Samaritan.” I previously wrote a blog post in June, “Love Without Prejudice.” Since that time I’ve come across this story several times. One day a religious scholar/lawyer posed a question to Jesus. He asked “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” Jesus answered him and said, “Love the Lord your God with every passion of your heart, with all the energy of your being, and with every thought that is within you.’ This is the great and supreme commandment. And the second is like it in importance: ‘You must love your friend in the same way you love yourself.’ Contained within these commandments to love you will find all the meaning of the Law and the Prophets.”

The lawyer wanted to justify himself so he asked another question, “What do you mean by ‘my neighbor’?” So Jesus broke it down to him by telling him a simple story about the Good Samaritan. Sometimes we just need Jesus to straighten out our thinking to help us understand the truth.

Who were the Samaritans and why were they important?

The Samaritans were people who lived in what had been the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Samaria. They were a racially mixed society with Jewish and pagan ancestry. Although they worshiped Yahweh as did the Jews, their religion was not mainstream Judaism. They accepted only the first five books of the Bible as canonical, and their temple was on Mount Gerazim instead of on Mount Zion in Jerusalem (Jn 4:20).

The Samaritans were despised by ordinary Jews,  Because of their imperfect adherence to Judaism and their partly pagan ancestry.  Rather than contaminate themselves by passing through Samaritan territory, Jews who were traveling from Judea to Galilee or vice versa would cross over the river Jordan, bypass Samaria. (Lk 9:52-53).

Sadly, many people are despised today because they don’t look and act like us. People tend to put others down. instead of lifting one another up. Strange as it may seem, some didn’t like Jesus either. Jesus healed the sick, feed the poor, and set the captives free, yet he was despised and rej by the people

Our neighbor is the person we meet that has a need that we have the opportunity and ability to do something about. It could be something as simple as paying for someone’s purchase in the grocery store when we see they don’t have enough money. Or helping a young mother whose baby is crying uncontrollably in the shopping mall.

Love excludes prejudice. We cannot say we have faith in God and favor one group of people over another. We are call to fulfill the law of love. To love and value your neighbor as we do ourselves. James 2:1-9

Blessings,

Dr. Francine

 

 

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