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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Luke 10:29–37   

But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” (NRSV)

Who is my neighbor?

When I ponder this question, it’s probably through a safe lens. The people on my block, coworkers, the parents sitting next to me at the youth hockey rink.

I contrast that with my kids who have a much broader definition of neighbors, such as a kid at the playground whom they’ve never met that’s wearing a Lego Batman shirt, the streetwise vendor at Foodstuffs, or the Syrian refugees on the front page (“Dad, I wish they can go to a school like mine”).

I was in the midst of a horrible day, which felt like a series of horrible days. I may have trouble defining my neighbor, but I had no problem that day listing the people that have disappointed me.

I was running through this list when a middle aged-woman and her four-year-old granddaughter, named Kiara, approached me. They had missed the bus back to Hammond and didn’t have any money for food. The missed bus, broken-down car, lost ticket is a tale I hear weekly and typically ignore or question.

But this day, I offered to take Kiara and her grandmother to Subway for lunch. Kiara ordered a kids meal just like my kids, unwrapping the toy as they made her sandwich. Her grandmother asked if she could get an extra bag of chips for the ride home.

We talked about our families and Kiara’s favorite TV show. We parted and hugged. I wished them safe travels to Hammond or wherever they call home. I walked out feeling lighter, more connected, and grateful for the fellowship I received from Kiara and her grandmother.

Dear Lord, help me be the neighbor Jesus has called us to be, and help me extend gratitude to our neighbors who lift us up when we are in need. Amen.

Written by Ranjan Daniels, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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