Who was the neighbor

As I make my way through the end of the year in the daily readings, I am struck over and over by what IS in the Gospel and by what is NOT. The parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 strikes that chord yet again.

What is it to have eternal life? It is to love God and love the neighbor. This is the test case. Period. All the other extraneous things we put on our “salvation” just don’t matter.

But the expert in the law asking the question of Jesus wanted to justify himself. He wanted a qualifier. He wanted to know that HIS way of seeing a “neighbor” was the right way. When we come up with qualifiers we are in huge trouble. Jesus will expose it right away, which he does with the parable of the Good Samaritan.

The final answer of being a good neighbor was NOT about religious doctrine, ethnic origin, praying the sinner’s prayer, or any other number of extraneous qualifiers we might put on being a “good neighbor” would work. The legal expert knew it.

Who was the good neighbor? The one who showed mercy. Period.

Over and over this is the theme. It is NOT “Did you ask Jesus into your heart?” It was NOT “Do you hold to our articles of faith?” It was NOT a lot of things. Those who found the blessing of Jesus were people walking in MERCY, COMPASSION, and JUSTICE. Period.

They were bearing the fruit of the Kingdom.

My attention these days are not on those who say the right words, preach out of the “right Bible,” hold to the “correct” form of liturgy, etc. My attention these days are on those who walk in mercy, compassion, and justice. These are the ones doing “Jesus things” and they may not even yet know Jesus or care to think about HIM. Yet, there they are. Doing Jesus things.

They are the good neighbor.

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