Who is my neighbour? the lawyer asks Jesus in today’s Gospel of the Good Samaritan. This story is revealing about which neighbours we think are good. Jesus answers the lawyer in the end with a question, making him provide his own answer: The one who shows mercy. Christ commands him, Go and do likewise.
We face a similar question today. #BlackLivesMatter is in the news often. Sadly, murdered and missing indigenous women here in Canada rarely make the headlines nor do their stories go viral. These lives of our sisters – – our neighbours – – are equally as important. Aboriginal people have known for many decades that we are all connected – we are all neighbors. We are all guests here on this globe. As I sit in creation this weekend, I wonder how things got to be so wrong.
Last night, a houseboat pulled up into the bay next to us and the tranquillity turned to turmoil. Our new neighbours were noisy and inconsiderate – somehow, they believe that all this beauty was theirs to enjoy, unaware of how they impacted those of us who had arrived first. Were they the type of people who had left the broken beer cans and bottles on our beach shore that I had come across earlier in the day? Living carelessly in the moment without thoughts of the future is not very wise or zen-like.
In this Year of Mercy we have much to learn about this quality. This past week was a hard one for our neighbours to the south. Two black lives or snuffed out and, in retaliation, five police officers were killed during a peaceful protest by snipers. Where is mercy? How are we loving our neighbours?
The video of at least one of the black men who died was plastered all over the Internet. I must confess that I watched it. I was fortunate enough to watch the blurred out version of the death. Who really needed to see the other uncensored footage while it was being live streamed? We are well aware that this was a tragedy, a fear-invoked death, and yes, a racist act. Isn’t that enough for us? Would any of us want to watch the dying moments of a missing and murdered aboriginal young woman? I hope not. These video tapes incite more violence rather than instill mercy. What is wrong with our world that we watch such videotapes?
I do not know that we need to record these incidents except that it does provide proof in a world where we have stopped recognizing our neighbors, where some refuse to believe it is possible that such acts still occur, and where we have little desire to understand one another. The time to go and do likewise is now. We need to extend mercy and love to everyone, including the officers who are sometimes labelled our enemies. We do not know how many lives are destroyed because of this violence, but I can assure you, it is more widespread than we think. I for one hope that we can go and show mercy. Will you join me?
What neighbour is your enemy? Can you show that person mercy?
How does social media impact how we view the world?
Creator, show me my neighbor. Give me a heart of compassion and love. May I not be to the influenced by outside forces that turn my feelings to stone. Help me to go to whoever needs me and serve them. May I respond joyfully to your command to go and do likewise. Amen.