“And who is my neighbor?” Luke 10:28
A Word of Hope
The question is an important one since most of us miss the point after hearing this bit of Scripture many times. The questions precede Jesus saying that we shall love God with all our strength and heart, soul and mind and our NEIGHBOR as ourselves.
Who is our neighbor? Is it the family next door in our neighborhood? Is it the person working in the office next to ours? Is it a co-laborer in the factory? Perhaps it refers to those people in a country contiguous to ours or even across the seas. As a human family struggling to live in peace, our neighbor is really anyone other than ourselves. Our neighbor is in relationship to/with us in one form or another, that is, physically, emotionally, psychologically, in person or through media.
Loving our neighbor as ourselves means loving those of a different color, race, creed, sexual orientation or presentation, who may speak a different language and dress in a way that we find odd. This is the challenge: To love that neighbor who is not next door with whom you have shared birthdays and holidays and those in your church family for whom you have great affection or your work family for whom who have great respect. It means loving Others – with a capital “O.” This task that Jesus sets before us sometimes requires forgiveness of ourselves and others, patience, understanding and compassion. Sometimes it means breaking out of old and stale stereotypes and prejudices and toxic theologies. It takes courage of conviction and integrity and speaking your own truth inspired by the Spirit of God.
Holy One! Give us the understanding to know who our Neighbors are. Help us to know how we can love them as we love ourselves. We are sorry for those times we have already fallen short of the command that Jesus gave to us. We promise to be more conscious of our words and actions and even our so-called jokes at the expense of our neighbor. We offer this prayer in your many names. Amen.
Cathedral of Hope / United Church of Christ