Lenten Devotion 3, First Sunday (a little late)

Luke 10:25-42 “And who is my neighbor?” (10:25b)

You probably know the song that Fred Rogers used to sing at the beginning of every show, inviting children to be his neighbor. Mr. Rogers always tried to broaden our understanding of neighbor by taking us out into his  neighborhood to meet new people and take an interest in what they loved to do. He taught his viewers to get to know their neighbors and always to be on the lookout for new neighbors. In this story from Luke, which leads to the parable of the Good Samaritan, a lawyer prods Jesus, tests him, in fact, asking what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus tests him right back. The lawyer must concede that God has already told him what to do: love his neighbor as himself. But he wants more. So he asks, “who is my neighbor?” And depending on where you put the emphasis, you hear a different  question. Who is my neighbor? Who is my neighbor? Who is my neighbor? Who is my neighbor? Wherever the emphasis lies, however you choose to hear the question, the result is the same. This guy is trying to talk his way out of the commandment. If he can wordsmith this thing, then the commandment becomes less demanding of him and gives him control – the choice of whom to serve, the option to include or exclude as he pleases. But the parable that follows shows what Jesus thinks of that. It is not ours to decide who our neighbor is. Our job, our role, our calling is to serve, to open the definitions as wide as possible, to invite all that we meet, “Won’t you be my neighbor?”

Prayer: Father of all, give me the courage to meet You in everyone I see, recognizing in each one a neighbor, a child of God, one for whom Christ lived and died. Give me the strength to serve them as You have served me. Amen.


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