And who is my neighbor?

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A few weeks ago, I stopped in at Rural Services and there was a small birthday party underway. I was invited to take a seat, and happily accepted. However, I tried to sit off to the side, as I didn’t know many of the people there, saying, “oh, thanks, but you’re all neighbors – I just happened to stop by.” A woman looked at me in surprise, and said “come, sit at the table – we’re all neighbors, even if you live in a different county.” Oh, my…how wonderful it was to share with new friends…

In today’s Gospel, the Samaritan didn’t just live in a different county, he lived in a different region. Worse yet, few Jews lived in Samaria, and the Samaritan faith community was alienated from “mainstream” Judaism. Now, remember that today’s OT reading cites Moses as saying, “the law of the Lord is already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out.” Our Samaritan got the message! The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondolet’s consensus statement calls each Sister and Associate to “service to neighbor without distinction” – rich, poor, Catholic or not, educated or not, the list goes on. Maybe even Samaritan or not. Simply stated, when a person is in need, religion, social class or income, etc., must never, never get in the way of helping them. Whether people approve of what we do or not – it really doesn’t matter.

Now, let’s translate this into everyday life. We might not ignore someone who needs us because of our need to get to church – but what if we were going to a ball game, a wedding, or a play? Would we take the time to stop and help? The Samaritan understood God’s law, and he acted on it. Let us always do the same.

Dorothy A Hathway, CSJA