Blog & Pastor Letters

The Christian and Love of Neighbor

07-14-2019Weekly ReflectionRev. Victor C. Yakubu

The parables of Jesus teach us how to live the Christian life. By reading them carefully, we can draw many lessons from them. This week's gospel is about how to inherit eternal life. By giving us the examples of how to gain eternal life, Jesus draws our attention on the best way to gain eternal life.

The scholar replied to Jesus based on what was written in the law of Moses. Every Jewish man and woman knew the law by heart; "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." The scholar decided to ask Jesus about who is a neighbor. Jesus did not give a direct answer; he rather gave a parable that answers the question. The story is about a man who fell among robbers and he was left between life and death. Three people saw him by the roadside but only one person, a Samaritan did something to save him.

Does this parable relate to us today? The answer lies in our approach to following the path of Jesus. Every Christian should learn from Jesus and practice love of neighbor. There are many ways we can show this love to our neighbor. Unfortunately, there are some Christians who act like neighbors from hell to other neighbors. We need to reduce tensions in our neighborhood by acting differently to calm situations when there is so much of tension and misunderstanding. People today are traumatized by different factors and they are waiting for punch on their pressure points before they erupt like volcanoes. Nobody wants to live in an atmosphere of suspicion and cruelty. We all desire a safe environment, a decent life and good company of friends.

The Christian should examine his heart to know what Jesus would say in every situation. St. Paul gives us crucial advice: "For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things for him, making peace by the blood of his cross, through him, whether those on earth or those in heaven." In this passage, St. Paul refers to the reconciliation that Jesus has brought to all of us by his death on the cross. Those alive and those who have died still have a relationship which is bound by good works and charitable actions. For an individual to make heaven, we must follow the footsteps of Jesus who commanded us to obey the laws of the Father.

It is not as if God's laws are meant to control our freedoms and hamper our happiness. On the contrary, God's laws are meant to enhance our happiness and create an orderly society. Moses respected the laws of God and taught the people of Israel to obey them. He said to them, "If only you would heed the voice of the Lord, your God, and keep his commandments and statutes that are written in this book of the law, when you return to the Lord, your God, with all your heart and all your soul." This is the main thrust of this week's reflection for every Christian to reconsider loving God and neighbor without conditions.

Just like at the time of Moses and Jesus, we also need God's laws for an orderly society beginning with how well we respect ourselves and our neighbors. In American society, the desire for individualism restricts our ability to reach out to our neighbors especially when we come under the Christian platform. However, we can still make efforts to assist our neighbors the best way possible when we meet.

There is a saying attributed to Mahatma Gandhi of India. It says, "Christians, I love your Christ, but I hate your ways because you are unlike Christ." Why would a non-Christian make such a statement? Why do non-Christians criticize us using strong words? This statement is a reminder to all of us to stop acting against the principles of Jesus by following his path of love, peace, kindness, compassion, and joy. What is life all about when we live as we are fighting a war? What do we gain by making hell for others? Do we truly want to gain eternal life by playing the role of 'neighbors from hell' in our neighborhood? This is the time to reform and reflect about making changes towards eternal life. Jesus is the source of our spiritual life and we need to wholly emulate his life. We derive strength and joy from keeping the laws of God as Jesus has taught us using many parables.

The example that works for us is that of the Good Samaritan who showed kindness to a Jew by bandaging his wounds and taking him to an inn. By practicing good works, we attract others to ourselves to share in our kindness and lives. This is the moral lesson of the parable of Jesus about the Good Samaritan and we must apply it everyday of our lives. The strangers you meet could be angels testing your kindness and Christian life. When you assist to strangers, you inadvertently propel yourself to a new realm of life that attracts divine rewards.

The final lesson for this week is that every Christian ought to examine their heart and ask relevant questions: Am I living the Christian life like Jesus? Do I love my neighbor like Jesus? What can I do to readjust my spiritual life to live in love? These questions and more are necessary towards gaining eternal life at the end of time. When Jesus gives us a parable, he wants us to know the right path to attain eternal life. Deborah Norville, a Christian writer says, "The scripture is God's plan on how we are to live our lives here and what we are to do to have eternal life." How do you plan to gain eternal life? Keep praying.