There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test Jesus and said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” He said in reply,
“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” He replied to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.”
But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied,
“A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn, and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.’ Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” Lk 10:25-37
Motto: „…neighbour to ….” – in the Euro-American culture, or as the popular word of choice calls it, the „Jewish Christian” culture, the „love of neighbour” is often enough a commonplace and which falls short of the teaching and witness conveyed in the timeless story of the Samaritan. It is proper to take a stand for it, but it is difficult to check how it is put into practice. Empirical studies show that today’s priests and Levites equally turn away and look at the the other direction when a neighbour is obviously suffering and silently crying for help. Despite the fact, that those who know the law, equally know exactly, what they are supposed to do. What would that be? All this is happening although our culture dictates by law that a person in trouble needs to be helped. The law punishes if somebody in distress is being neglected. Many make an ideology out of their indifference. The whole thing is the „job” of the Red Cross and the Caritas, in the best case of the Churches. The care for the neediest neighbours even in the hardest Communist times were left for the monks who were left barely to exist only here and there and only just because nobody else would have taken up this task. However, it is interesting that many hearts are moved to solidarity in case of spectacular disasters. In such cases it is not even a problem if the catastrophe happens somewhere at the other end of the world. A tsunami or an earthquake does not only alarm charity organisations but also people’s conscience. The plight of the neighbour in the neighbourhood is more difficult to notice. So, who is your neighbour? The quotation stresses: „neighbour to.”
This is not a technical term. It points to a real person. Only those can be „real” neighbours who help a specific person, taking their strength and situation into account. A nameless donation does not do justice to this idea. There is no nameless neighbour!
Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – 14.07.2019
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