“…Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

From the Parish PriestFr. Romey Rosco

Many of us remember Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, a great children’s show that ran from 1968-2000.  He would open each program singing his theme song: “It’s a wonderful day in the neighborhood…” and end with “Won’t you be by neighbor?”

Everyone should agree that loving one’s neighbor as one’s self is a requisite for living a good Christian life.  But, in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, our Lord makes it clear that our “neighbor” could be anyone, even a complete stranger.  Your “neighbor” is your fellow man, and his address is irrelevant.

Often we are angry about conflicts and prejudices we are confronted with in our daily living, and the more we learn from television and the internet about truly evil-doers, we wonder how we could ever love people again, and so we are conditioned to give grudgingly, to others (“After all, how do I know he really needs the help?”).  We even ignore exchanging civilities, not even a smile or a “hello.”  Likewise, we become callous toward those we know are suffering, void of any feelings of sorrow or caring.  If we treated ourselves the way we treat others, we should be thought to be self-destructive.

It is not impossible to love others!  God does not ask us to do the impossible!  We can train ourselves to love our neighbors by observing them, learning not to stereotype them, and seeing them as individuals who could (if of another culture) adjust to the good aspects of our society much easier if we just made them feel more welcome.

Now, I’m not much different from you; I have difficulty calling on my Christian training when faced with difficult interpersonal challenges.  We don’t want to be taken advantage of, much less preyed upon.  But we must contribute to the goodness in the world around us or we are wasting opportunities to live our faith.

It’s hard, but not impossible.  We all know well what goodness is; we think about it every day.  We long for it in our minds and hearts.  We just don’t always practice it for the benefit of others who also long for it.

Rare is the life that can change the world.  Such a life did exist, and now we worship Him, grateful that His unique life continues to influence those who desire to follow Him with faith, yet feel overwhelmed by the challenge.

But we are not called to change the world on our own.  Our Christian calling is not to be other Messiahs, but to be like the only True Messiah: showing mercy to our fellow man, being “good Samaritans,” those who really care about our “neighbors,” good examples of the One Who said “Go and do likewise.

From The Weekly Bulletin, Vol. XXXVII No. 46, 14 November 2010
Sts. Peter & Paul Romanian Orthodox Church, Dearborn Heights MI

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