"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all you mind and your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27 And the question always is….who is my neighbor? Jesus answered that question with the story of a man who was robbed and beaten and left for dead on the side of a road. A priest and a temple official passed by, and crossed the road to avoid contact with the possibly unclean body. Then another man, an outsider in the community, came along and saw him and helped him and cared for him. The outsider showed him mercy, even though they were not from the same town or tribe or class and it’s pretty certain they did not know each other. Jesus said we are to “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:37)
In order to “go and do likewise,” we have to first see. As we walk down the road, we have to see our neighbors, even, maybe especially, those we don’t know. Do you really see the people you walk past every day? Did you see the people you rode in the elevator with at work, or passed on the bike trail, or who walked past you at the grocery store? Do you see the person who sat next to you in worship or at the end of the row? Did you make eye contact, or did you look away? Do you know their names, where they live, what their lives are like?
Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, “I see Jesus in every human being. I say to myself, this is hungry Jesus, I must feed him. This is sick Jesus. This one has leprosy or gangrene; I must wash him and tend to him. I serve because I love Jesus.” Most of us won’t encounter a lot of gangrene and leprosy this week. But we may, if we open our eyes and really see, encounter hurt hearts, people who hunger for friendship, fellowship, conversation, acceptance of faults. If we are looking, we may realize people who need God’s love and care are all around us, and they are our neighbors, seeking grace and mercy just like we are.
This week, let’s pray together for the ability to see, and then love our neighbor as we love ourselves, and as Jesus loves us.
Lord God, open our eyes and help us see our neighbors as you see them and love them as you love them. Guide us with your Holy Spirit to see, and then act in a way that shows your love and mercy to everyone we meet. Amen.