Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Who is My Neighbor?

"There is in the whole world not a single person who can be recognized with such ease and certainty as one's neighbour. You can never confuse him with anyone else, for indeed all men are your neighbour... If you save a man's life in the dark, supposing him to be your friend, but he is your neighbour, this again is no mistake. if your friend complains that, in his opinion, you did for a neighbour what he thought you would do only for him, be at rest, it is your friend who makes the mistake." _Soren Kierkegaard (Works of Love, p. 64-65)

"For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
"About the third hour he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.' So they went.
"He went out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did the same thing. About the eleventh hour he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, 'Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?'
" 'Because no one has hired us,' they answered.
"He said to them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard.'
"When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.'
"The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 'These men who were hired last worked only one hour,' they said, 'and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.'
"But he answered one of them, 'Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?'
"So the last will be first, and the first will be last."
_Matthew 20:1-16

"For God does not show Favoritism." _Romans 2:11

"But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers." _James 2:9

How difficult it is to see neighbor in enemy and to see friend in neighbor. How difficult and yet how necessary it is for the hope of salvation. What hope is there for any beast, for any military machine, to get far in its' mission if all, at least Christians, were to beat their riffles into shovels and say of their enemy, "he is my neighbor and the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not kill my beloved." what progress could violence have if it is stopped in its' tracks by this relentless love. "You can never confuse him [your neighbor] with anyone else, for indeed all men are your neighbour"... and yet we have time and time again given in to confusion. We continually nail people on crosses forgetting that they are the beloved. We scratch our heads at the question, "who is my neighbor" and Jesus reminds us "a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he had compassion for him" (Luke 10:33).

May we be blessed with the irrational and relentless generosity of God, to see neighbor and to love him even in the eleventh hour, even when his guns are pointed in our face. May we be blessed with eyes to see the neighbor in each and every person who crosses our path and crosses our plans. May we put down our swords and heal their ears. Let the day come when violence will move across this earth vainly searching for just one who might give in to its' seduction, only to find that none will again be confused at the question, "who is my neighbor?" for indeed all people are your neighbor.

3 comments:

simplygrand said...

You have forgotten to quote the most influential neighbor of our time:

"When I say it's you I like [From one of his songs], I'm talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch. That deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed."

- Fred Rogers

"How sad it is that we give up on people who are just like us.”

- Fred Rogers

WES ELLIS said...

Fred Rogers as in Mr. Rogers?

I'd be glad to be his neighbor.

simplygrand said...

Yep, that's the one. He's my hero :)

"Won't you be my neighbor?"