Gal 1: 6-12
The Neighbour in You
Love God and love your neighbour. It is the fundamental rule of Christian life. All our actions are to be directed to satisfy this norm of Christian life.
Jesus would teach us that loving God and loving the neighbour are not two actions, but one single action of love. Loving the neighbour who is immediately close to you is equal to loving God who is unseen and beyond your grasp. Moreover, if you claim that you love God without loving your neighbour, you have missed both and you are a hypocrite.
The parable of the Good Samaritan illustrates the hypocritical attitude of the priest and the Levite who avoid the wounded man, even though they are appointed for God’s service. Seeing the man in need they passed by the other side of the road.
Jesus would also give us the definition of a neighbour in the person of the Good Samaritan who stopped by the man who lay half-dead. It is the Samaritan that proved himself to be a good neighbour to the man in need. In the same way, if we do acts of compassion, we become neighbours to others. There is no need of searching for a neighbour. The neighbour is within you. It is an awareness within you that is awakened to action in situations of human need. The neighbour is the voice of God who calls you to meet him in the fellow human beings.
Jesus asks at the end of the parable: “Which of the three do you think, proved neighbour to the man who fell among the robbers?” The lawyer answered: “The one who showed mercy on him”. The Samaritan showed mercy and he became a good neighbour. Being a neighbour is simultaneously discovering a neighbour in the other person. One cannot be a neighbour without having a neighbour. It is the discovery of oneself in the other. There is no other way of attaining self-fulfilment.
Dr. Sebastian Elavathingal CMI