50 years ago Rev. Fred Rogers from right here in Pennsylvania, began a T.V. show for children and touched the hearts of many as his message came right into our living rooms. He began with a sweet song about a neighborhood. It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.
When Jesus wanted to teach us who a neighbor is he gave the story of the Good Samaritan (even though the word “good” is never in the story, we got the subtext). I vividly remember once taking an achievement test in first grade. My mother was a first grade teacher at the time and she wanted me to make good grades.
So she asked, “Why did you put false on the sentence: ‘A neighbor is someone who lives near you.”
I said, “Because Our neighbors do not live anywhere near us.”
We lived out in the country. Our neighbors were far down the road. So in my experience it was a false statement. My mother was incensed at the creators of the test. She said, “The test is regionally biased!” Other terms such as a toboggan (in the south is a knit cap, not a sled) caused confusion in children.
Who is our neighbor? Our neighbors may live right next door. Currently I live in a row home. My neighbors are literally connected to my house! Jesus broadens the border beyond proximity and geography. The story of the good Samaritan is easy to understand and very hard to put into practice. Who is my neighbor? The story ends with who is my neighbor? The one who helped me. We who are privileged often hear the text as being about – go help someone. Yet, it first reminds us at times we have been helped. All of us have a need or have had a need. Someone was a neighbor to you, go and do likewise.
29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” ….. 6 Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” Luke 10:25-37