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 10:29-37
Each day on the way from the car park to the office, one of my daughters passed by homeless on street corners. She took time to learn the names of those she saw often. They brightened to hear her greet them by name and she often brought them items of need, like hand warmers or socks. One man she learned a little more about. I’ll call him, Jim. Jim had a friend who lived about two hours north and with whom he could live, if only he had money to get there, and money to help with housing expenses when he arrived. He was an artist. He said he could earn money by drawing for passersby. But his homeless situation had led to the loss of art tools. She asked what they would be. On Monday following their conversation she gave him a sketch pad, markers and colored pencils–exactly what he needed. His eyes welled with gratitude. The next day he was gone from the familiar corner and she didn’t see him anymore but continued to pray for him. Occasionally God shows some of the fruit we’ve sown and he did so for my daughter. One busy Saturday she saw Jim on a corner closer to town, sketching for passersby. She greeted him. He was so happy to see her because he had a bus ticket to leave the next day. Jim had earned enough money to move and even had a job interview lined up when he got there. This time itwas her eyes that welled with gratitude.
We tend to think of neighbors as those who live on our street or our apartment complex. We might even extend the concept to those in our church or workplace. But that is not how Jesus paints the neighbor picture for us. Our neighbor is anyone we encounter, anywhere, who is in need of mercy.
Our Holy Father, Francis, reminds us, “We need to go forth from our own communities and be bold enough to go to the existential outskirts that need to feel the closeness of God. He abandons no one, and he always shows his unfailing tenderness and mercy; this, therefore, is what we need to take to all people.”
As adults, we are generally more equipped to give mercy. But, also, as adults we tend to be too busy to see the need of mercy – the need for Jesus - in our midst and beyond our neighborhood and church.
Perhaps we should remember Jesus’ admonition about entering the kingdom of God as little children and ask him to help us remove our adult blinders. He will faithfully open our eyes to see the needs around us and let his mercy flow through us, as it did through the Samaritan and through my daughter, that we might ‘go and do likewise.’
The very name of God is mercy; we are called to show the world what that really means.
To Jesus, through Mary-Cheryl Ann Wills