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Confessions of a realistic pollyanna

Who is my neighbour?

Who is my neighbour? It is a question that Jesus asks us in the scriptures. A man had been mugged by robbers and left hurting in a ditch. Several people, all with important issues or fear for their own safety rush past him. Only one man stops- someone who is hated and reviled because he is of a different race. He stops and offers aid to the man. He, and he alone acts as a neighbour.

Upon first hearing this passage, I understood that we are called to be like the Samaritan and be good neighbours. It is part of our Christian duty. However, when I read this passage, I realise there are too many times when I have been like the people who rush past the hurting man. I didn’t want to get involved. I was running late. I had other things to do. I have blamed the victim- it must be there own fault. Yes many times I have not got involved. I wish there were more times that I had stepped out and left my comfort zone and was there for my neighbour.

But who is my neighbour. Is it the young man that lives next door to me who I have spoken less than 20 words to since I moved into the apartment 7 months ago? We have always been cordial- smiling, nodding when we see each other in the hall way or the street. Would we be considered neighbours- if not for the fact that our doors are a few metres from each other. In one way yes, we live in the same building. In another way no- we have no relationship with each other. Would we help each other in times of need- I’d like to thing so but I am not really sure.

If however we use the definition that a neighbour is someone who helps people who are in need, then we must ask ourselves who needs neighbours right now. One thought that comes to my head is refugees. These are people who fled their countries because of war. They have watched as family members have been killed. They have left behind everything. They are seeking a place of peace. To be a neighbour to them means to alleviate their suffering. Vilifying them, calling them all terrorists, dole seekers, illiterates, innumerates, job stealers, does nothing to offer hospitality. Categorising them as an evil which must be kept away from others, is not the type of Christianity that I hear from Luke. Using fear and hatred, rather than hospitality and compassion, as an election ploy to win votes makes us no better than the folks in the parable who walk away from the injured man. Blessings.

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