1.Dt 30:10-14
2. Colossians 1:15-20
Gospel: Luke10:25-37

                   "It is necessary to create neighbors than creating borders"

There was a famous preacher, whose name is Catherine Booth with her husband William Booth of one of the evangelical churches.  Catherine booth in her character because of her beautiful sermons, she was nicknamed, ' an electrifying preacher. Wherever she went she could impress people much to an extent that crowds of people flocked to hear her message of hope. She moved many people including princes, and nobles, beggars and homeless people. It happened one day that one night after in a certain city, a certain well-placed lady invited Mrs. Booth, to dinner. The lady's words of welcome as she arrived were: " My dear Mrs. Booth."Oh, that meeting was so touching and dreadful." " What do you mean, dear?" asked Mrs. Booth. " Oh, when you were speaking , I was looking at those people opposite to me. Their faces were so terrible, many of them. I don't think  if I shall sleep tonight!" " Why, dear, don't you know them?" Mrs. Booth asked. " Certainly not!" the hostess replied. " Well, that is interesting," Mrs. Booth asked. " Certainly not!" the hostess replied. "well, that is interesting," Mrs. Booth said. " I did not bring them with me from London; they are your neighbors!"

Majority of people when they hear about Golden Rule, " Love your neighbor as yourself" ( Luke 10: 27) which we hear in today's gospel, think of it as a Christian thing while forgetting that this is the universal value. This is because every conceivable religion and culture in the world has the Golden Rule in one form or another. below is a sampling:

Judaism: " What is hateful to you, do not do it to your fellow man. That is the law: all the rest is commentary."
Islam: " No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother  that which he desires for himself."
Hinduism: " This is the sum of duty: do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you."
Buddhism: " Hurt not others in ways that yourself would find hurtful."
Confucianism: "Do not unto others what you would not have them do unto you."

With these different understanding of Golden rule according to the enumerated religions above, again we can pose this question to ourselves that, if the Golden Rule was so well-known in ancient cultures why then did Jesus spend so much time teaching it as if it was a new thing? It is simply because Jesus taught a completely new understanding of the commandment. The challenging issue here is that the Golden Rule is understood differently in different religions and cultures. And the key to its understanding lies in the question that the lawyer asks Jesus in today's gospel, " Who is my neighbor?" ( v.29). Who is my neighbor that I have an obligation to love?

In Jewish context, there were different sects with different understanding of the, " neighbor" in a very limited way. The Essenes of Qumran, for example, required new member to swear to love the sons of light and hate the son of darkness. For them your neighbor is the one who shares the same religious identity, as well as religious persuasion as yourself. Other groups such as Zealots, would understand neighbor  to include only those who shared the same nationality and ethnicity with them. It is the matter of understanding that the average Jew would not regard the Samaritan as the neighbor. They are outsiders and thus the circle of neighborly love does not include them. Jesus came into the world of " we" and " them" " we" in the circle of those being recognized as neighbors, and " them" being the rest of the world regarded as hostile strangers and enemies of the people.

We should understand that the word " neighbor" comes from the old English root "nigh" which means someone near or close to us. Jesus, in His great compassion, " drew near" to us in the outcast of society such as lepers, tax collectors and prostitutes. He had a special compassion for women and for the poor. His love was proactive and spontaneous. He anticipated people's needs and reached out to them before they had to ask. His gesture of multiplying breads in one occasion is a practical example of that.

What is the new thing Jesus teaches us today with regard to neighborly love? the answer is that he teaches us and lets us to understand that all humanity is one big neighborhood. Thus he broke down the walls of division and the borders of prejudice and suspicion that humans have erected between "us" and " them" to make this point well understood, He tells the story of Good Samaritan.  In the story we have a Samaritan who was ever regarded as  worse enemy of the Jews, in contrary he is the one who finally proves himself to be a neighbor to the Jewish man in need. Thus the clear answer to the question " who is my neighbor" Jesus' answer is: Anyone and everyone without exception.

The victim of robbery and violence in today's gospel represents mankind corrupted by sin. Jesus is the Good Samaritan who takes pity on all of us and comes to our aid, heals us and restores to life. The Jewish Priest and Levite ( deacon) in the story did not want to go near the poor man who had been attacked because they thought that he was dead, moreover, doing that they would have come into contact with dead body, a thing that was contrary to Mosaic law of love! on the other occasion Jesus had taught, " Man was not made for the Sabbath; the Sabbath was made for man" ( Or else the priest and Levite just did not want to get involved!)

Back to our introductory story above in our reflection today, the lady who invited Mrs.Booth to dinner understood her " neighbor" to be limited only to those on her social and economic level. Mrs. Booth reminded her that her " neighbor" should include the nobodies of the society. From our story above like this lady, we all need to be reminded that the Christian understanding of the "neighbor"  admits of no borders. Thus it is under this background that it is necessary to create neighbors than building borders. Today, we are all invited to make a U-turn. That means we are all reminded to tear down all the borders we have erected between those who belong to us( and are, therefore, deserving of our love and concern) and those who don't ( those who can go to hell).

Sometimes these wall of division are religious in nature, as in the case of religious intolerance, or in the mutual distrust and hatred between those who call themselves "conservatives" and those who call themselves " liberals." Other times they are ethnic and racial, as in the bad blood between black and whites in places like apartheid South Africa etc. These walls we do erect could also be social and economic. The gospel today challenges us all to dismantle these walls. In this way we work with Jesus to realize his dream of the world as neighborhood without borders.

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Chapisha Maoni