by Laurie Gudim
One year the Fort Collins multi-faith organization called the Tent of Abraham, Hagar and Sarah had a brilliant idea. They sponsored a blood drive. The mobile blood donation center, a bus belonging to the hospital, was sent around town, to churches, synagogues and the Islamic Center, so that everyone, by giving blood, could make a statement. The statement was this. All of us, no matter our religion or race or cultural heritage, can share blood. Our blood is interchangeable. Blood types do not correspond to what we mistakenly think of as racial distinctions, for what we call race is only a set of variations that are skin deep.
Jesus’ provocative parable, the tale of the Good Samaritan, is about radical kinship. “Who is my neighbor?” an antagonistic lawyer asks him. And Jesus tells the story of two Jews who fail and the foreigner who succeeds in helping an unfortunate businessman. It’s a Samaritan he casts as hero, and this fellow, as he would have his own kin, not only touches but washes and provides for the victim, the injured Jewish merchant. Even the inn keeper is brought into relationship with both men, as the Samaritan tells him to take care of the merchant at the Samaritan’s expense – and to send for more money if more is needed.
The lawyer then sees that a true neighbor is anyone who “shows mercy.” It is the person who puts aside rules, differences and past wrongs and lets the one he meets into his heart. Being a neighbor is not so much about the duty of giving charitably to those in need – in other words about following the Law – as it is about reaching across the barriers of ethnicity and religion to treat one another as our own flesh and blood.
The abundant, generous, trusting invitation-to-be of God unfolds when we begin to practice the spiritual discipline of love: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Through this prayerful practice we discover that our neighbor IS ourselves. “Do this,” says Jesus, “and you will live.”
Image: From Pixabay