This Sunday’s Gospel reading was the parable of the Good Samaritan. A story we’ve all heard multiple times before, a Sunday School classic, if you will. But this Sunday was also the day of targeted ICE raids, striking terror into immigrant communities who feared that the targeting might be a little too broad. As we watch people pile up in the detention camps near the border and hear the stories of families separated by deportation, it’s a good time to ask, “And who is my neighbor?”
The scholar who asks Jesus this question knows God. He knows what he must do to inherit eternal life: love God and love neighbor. But he wants specifics. He doesn’t want to be actually obligated to love those he hates. He wants assurance that being good to his preferred people counts.
“I’m a good person,” we reassure ourselves as we love those who are easy to love. But Jesus calls us to show mercy, to go out of our way, out of our comfort zones, to aid those most in need of help, to see that they recover, to love our neighbors—and everyone is our neighbor.
Whether one believes those who have entered the country illegally should be deported or given a path to citizenship or some other solution is not the issue at stake right now. The issue is how do we treat those in our care? Do we see people who have walked thousands of miles for their children to live in a safe land? Do we see people fleeing all they know for just the chance of a better life? Do we see neighbors? Do we see people?
Our neighbors deserve water, for drinking and bathing. Our neighbors deserve food and medical attention. Our neighbors deserve a place to rest their head at night. Our neighbors deserve to be treated like people, looked in the eye, and acknowledged.
The Good Samaritan is remembered for going out of his way for loving a man in need. He was not socially obligated to help, but morally he was compelled to. He chose mercy.
“Go, and do likewise.”