Monday, October 03, 2005

Who is my neighbor?

Today's readings, and the sermon I heard today, gave yours truly quite a challenge.

In the first reading, old Jonah tries to run away from God. He didn't want the folks in Nineveh warned of their imminent destruction...he didn't like them. They weren't "his neighbors."

In the Gospel, the smarty pants lawyer couldn't bring himself to even utter the word "Samaritan" when asked by Jesus, after the "Good Samaritan" parable, to identify the true neighbor. He didn't like Samaritans. He hated Samaritans. They weren't "his neighbors."

Jesus probably learned a version of this prayer at His mother's knee: "I will love the Lord my God with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my mind, and with all my strength. And I will love my neighbor as myself."

I try to pray the same prayer daily. But who is my neighbor?

My family? Friends? People who agree with me? People who like me?

What about those who would do me harm? Who dislike me? (Yes, hard as it is to believe, there are some...)

Yesterday, after Mass, I stepped out of the church to find a few people with signs. Angry people. People who accused me and others of "spewing hate" because of our peculiar notion that marriage is a union between a man and a woman.

Later, I walked with thousands of others on the Boston Common in support of the unborn. Predictably, we all had to pass through the "gauntlet" — people screaming the usual epithets ("keep your Rosaries off our ovaries," et al).

This afternoon, a bus driver got mad at me because I dropped my fare in the wrong slot, and later to top off my day, a telemarketer called me.


Here's the thing.

Every person I described in this post is a person I am bound to love. It's that simple, albeit it's not that easy. (Especially in the case of the telemarketer!)

Who is my neighbor?

The answer is: who isn't?