Read Luke 10:25-37
Who is my neighbor? That was a simple question asked of Jesus by a young expert in the law. Did he really want to know the answer or was he hoping Jesus would confirm his own beliefs that one group of people was better than another?
As he often did, Jesus answered him with a parable. However, the hero of the story wasn’t who I am sure the young man suspected. Oh no! Jesus chose a person from Samaria! He was one of “those people” who were labeled as being “not worthy” merely because of their heritage.
This “terrible person” was the one who was able to rise above the bigotry and centuries long prejudices and go about doing what God had commanded everyone to do. That was to love your neighbor as yourself. As it turned out, the Samaritan did not just help another Samaritan but went out of his way to help a complete stranger! This was done even when so called upstanding Jews not only walked past the hurt man, but actually crossed over to the other side of the road to avoid him!
We are not born hating people and anyone who has spent any amount of time in an preschool or early childhood classroom can see little kids don’t see differences in people. They don’t care what color skin one has or who their ancestors are; they just want to be friends! They have to be taught to hate!
The Samaritan had been labeled as being bad purely for his heritage. Was he compassionate because he knew what it was like to be rejected and shunned? How would the story have been different if it were a priest who had been hurt and robbed? Would this so called wise man have been foolish enough to have refused aid merely because of who it came from?
Labels are for bottles and cans and containers. Labels aren’t made for people. Labels on people are only there to divide!
Are you guilty of labeling people? How about that smelly person in line at the grocery store? You know, the one with the screaming kid in their cart in front of you! What about the store employee who might not talk “right” or might walk ”funny?” Maybe we need to rip off the labels we place on people and see what is really inside! Then we can really love our neighbors as ourselves!