But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:25-37
We are living in a time when fearing our neighbor and hate for strangers and aliens seems acceptable in society. And yet, it has always been acceptable, in many ways, to champion's one's rights over another's, and to push others down. Women are still subjugated and abused, and treated as less than lovable in many places, including in this country, particularly women of color. Most abuse here is done behind closed doors, a politeness in public, wretched cruelty in private with partners, coworkers and young girls. So, as much as things change, they stay they same.
Jesus challenged the traditional and cultural behavior of overlooking the needs of aliens, enemies and strangers. Jesus told his disciples that loving our neighbors (as ourselves) was second only to loving God. In the hierarchy of commandments that's pretty top shelf. And, as if we didn't understand, Jesus' story points out the religious leaders have been doing it all wrong, and the Samaritan, the hated neighbor and enemy, knew how to follow God. Making love visible is our daily task.
Today, I ask God to help me demonize no one, loving everyone as I would like to be loved. The world is in need of those who are willing to stand up to abuse ans denigration in all places, sharing God's love and respect for all.