Neighbor Even to Our Hateful Enemies

by | Jul 9, 2019 | Formation, Reflections

Jesus, more than anybody else, is neighbor to us.  Dealing mercifully with those in need, we get to do as he does.

A legal scholar tests Jesus, and Jesus turns the tables on him and tests him.  The scholar, however, passes the test.  But not wanting perhaps to come off worse from the discussion, he asks, “And who is my neighbor?”

The scholar asks if the neighbor is only a fellow Jew or also a foreigner.  Should he love only those who keep the law? Or is a tax collector who works for the Romans a neighbor too?  So, what the scholar wants to know is whom he should love, and not love.

And once again, Jesus turns the tables on him.  He asks, “Which of these three … was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?”  And so, he suggests that the question should not be, “Who is my neighbor?” but instead, “Am I neighbor to others?”

The burden of proof, then, is not on other people.  Not on the strangers who turn up near us helpless, hapless.  They do not have to show that are they worthy of our love.  Rather, the burden is on each one of us to prove we can be neighbor.

The follower of Jesus is neighbor to others.

True Christians follow Jesus who is the best neighbor.  To be near us, he becomes like us in every way but sin.  Made flesh, he dwells among us.  He is God-with-us, and so we can go near and see the invisible God.  He is the neighbor who puts others’ well-being ahead of his own life even.

One cannot, then, be true to Jesus without being neighbor to others, especially to those whom many people avoid.  Those who follow Jesus do not only love those who love them or are like them.  They also are to love their enemies.  For they must be as merciful as their Father.  That is how they become children of the Most High, who is kind to the good and the wicked.

To be discriminating is to misunderstand love.  Love is an orientation; it is one.  We cannot at the same time face north and south, east and west.  We cannot love God and not love our neighbor, love the righteous and not the unrighteous, love those who come in with papers and not those without them.

To discriminate is to dissect everything.  And it only makes love seem far, way up there or deep down below, beyond reach.  Moreover, it puts us at risk of not being among the childlike, to whom God reveals his mysteries.   We are to keep the true religion (SV.EN XI:190).

Lord Jesus, as we share in your Supper make us stand joyfully and hopefully ready to welcome your return, when you will pay us back for being neighbor to the least of your brothers and sisters.

14 July 2019
15th Sunday in O.T. (C)
Dt 30, 10-14; Col 1, 15-20; Lk 10, 25-37