|Double rainbow in my neighborhood|
There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test Jesus and said,“Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law?How do you read it?”He said in reply,“You shall love the Lord, your God,with all your heart,with all your being,with all your strength,and with all your mind,and your neighbor as yourself.”He replied to him, “You have answered correctly;do this and you will live.” Luke 10:25-27In today's first reading from Ephesians, Paul cautions strongly against deviating from the original message of Jesus which Paul received directly and which he delivered to the Ephesians. No matter how much theology I read, I need to always return to the scriptures and test my understanding against them. I am of one mind with evangelical Christians in this regard. I do understand that not all human knowledge is there and that the scriptures are not authoritative when it comes to science. But science is not what saves; the teachings of Jesus do.
So in this case, Jesus is speaking about loving the Divine One and loving neighbors as yourself. The Jewish scholar then asks the key questions, "Who is my neighbor?" The short answer is that a neighbor is anyone who lives in my neighborhood. So where is my neighborhood? Neighborhood is generally understood to be a relatively confined geographic area where people have frequent, face-to-face interactions. In other words, neighbors are people you know personally although with varying levels of intimacy. Almost by definition, someone you don't know cannot be a neighbor.
Again Jesus turns this everyday understanding on its head with the story of the Good Samaritan which he tells in response to the question. It turns out that everyone is my neighbor. Everyone. Perhaps a more precise formulation is that I am called to treat everyone as though they were my neighbor, as though I knew them, as though I lived with them on a daily basis.
This is an example of Paul's admonition. Whenever we try to think about how we live in the world as Christians, we need to go back to the fundamental messages of Jesus and use those to inform our thinking.