The Norman Transcript

January 25, 2013

So, who is my neighbor?

By Kenneth M. Barber
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — After reviewing the great commandments given to Moses to love the Lord and his neighbor, a certain lawyer, as recorded in Luke’s gospel, asked Jesus to specify whom exactly he was required to love (10:27-29). The wonderful parable of the Good Samaritan was the Savior’s response.

At times I have caught myself placing artificial parameters on the questions of “Who are my neighbors?” and “Whom I am ‘required’ to love?” By so doing I hurt myself and clearly violate the spirit of the good news Jesus taught.

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of spending time with a fellow Norman resident (a “neighbor”) I had never met. I was delighted to discover how much we have in common. We are about the same age and share many interests. We both love the community and the good, caring people who live here. We both worry about children and grandchildren and what the future holds in store for them. Health concerns are becoming more of an issue as we age.

As I anticipated the opportunity to meet my neighbor, I saw myself as a Good Samaritan taking time out of my busy life to reach out and help a wounded stranger. My neighbor is homeless and (from my limited perspective) has many needs. But the more we visited the more I realized how much this man was giving to me. Wounds I had chosen not to notice became apparent as this good neighbor poured oil onto them. My life was richly blessed and my perspective forever changed by taking some time to become acquainted with him.

How many other neighbors do I breeze past in my busy life? How many opportunities do I miss to bless others and to be blessed by them — largely because I, like the lawyer in the book of Luke, want to place limits on my social interactions?

We live in a fine community where we are surrounded by neighbors and brothers and sisters. I know I need to take more time to smell the roses and communicate with my neighbors

Technology is constantly improving — making it possible to easily communicate with others in remarkable ways. There will never be an adequate substitute, however, for paying attention to those around us in person. We can, like the priest and the Levite in the parable, choose to ignore or go around or close our eyes to the people we encounter in our daily walk. That approach would be a mistake.

If we follow the example of the Good Samaritan and walk next door and speak with our neighbor, our lives and the lives of those around us in our community will be greatly enriched.

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