On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 56:"And who is my neighbor?" (Luke 10:29 RSV)

In the familiar story found in the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke, a story called “The Good Samaritan,” a lawyer tests Jesus by asking, "And who is my neighbor?" 

Rather than trying to define who the neighbor is for the lawyer, Jesus instead tells the story of what a neighbor did on behalf of a man who fell into the hands of robbers who left him on the roadside to die.

 Good neighbors, as good stewards, are those who go beyond requirements and do what is needed for the neighbor. St. Matthew wrote these words of Jesus in his Gospel: “…if anyone would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you” (Matthew 5:40-41 RSV). Shortly after Jesus spoke these words in the Sermon on the Mount, He added: "You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” (Matthew 5:43-44 RSV)

In both the story of the Good Samaritan and in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus links our earthly neighbors to the same love God has shown us in Jesus Christ who gave Himself completely for us, His neighbors.

Stewards are those who are generous with the things God has loaned them to build up the Kingdom of God. In the Good Samaritan story, the most likely persons to assist the man dying in the ditch were the priest and the Levite. But they “passed by on the other side.” It was the hated Samaritan who came to the aid of the Jewish traveler. As we know, that Samaritan was not only generous with his time, but also with the extravagance of his support, financially, of the injured man to see to his full recovery.

Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan actually began when that lawyer had asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” When asked that same question on another occasion, Jesus’ answer to the rich young man who asked the question? Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me" (Luke 18:22 RSV).

This time in answer to the same question, Jesus points out that eternal life is available to the one who in his abundance shows mercy to his neighbor – whether he likes the neighbor or not!

This weekly series of brief thoughts on stewardship and Orthodox life is brought to you by your Diocesan Stewardship Commission.

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