“And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29)

A reflection by Brendan O’Kane, MTS Student and Campus Minister at Loyola Blakefield High School in Baltimore, Maryland

The deceased Trayvon Martin and his family, George Zimmerman and his family, the prosecution, the defense, the judge and jury – they are all our neighbors. The Parable of the Good Samaritan challenges us to accept this fact. Even those we might not agree with, get frustrated with, or harbor extreme feelings against, are still our neighbors. The story Jesus tells the lawyer provides us with a way we can practice this love: show mercy towards our fellow man.

The most relevant question today might be how can we show mercy when we are filled with discontent or even anger? We must first confront those feelings. James 4:1-2 states, “Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask.”

What questions, like the lawyer in the parable, must we ask God? The question I ask myself after hearing devastating news is usually, “Why?”. A better question to ask at this juncture might be “Can I really show mercy and love to all people?” and if we have faith in God and the teachings of Christ, the answer from above is a resounding “Yes”.

Obtaining some clarity from Jesus’s words, the lawyer recognizes the loving action of the Samaritan and is then called to “Go and do likewise” (10:37). Herein lies the difficult part for us as we go forth, yet they are directions we must embrace carefully. We are reminded in Leviticus 19:18 that, “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”

In a world marred with violence and hate, we must drown out those evils with love and mercy toward all, with no reservations.