What does it take to be a neighbor?

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By HELEN HOSIER/Express columnist

It was a beautiful fall day — one of those days to be enjoyed before the onslaught of a Canadian winter. My daughter propped herself down on the lawn next to a little neighbor guy and said, “Hi neighbor.”

He looked up at her and replied, “What’s a neighbor?”

As adults we forget that these little ones are learning. They are so innocent, not knowing the meaning of some words, expressions and ideas that we take for granted. His question surprised her.

“Well, you are a neighbor because you live next door to me.”

Her answer satisfied him.

Truth is, not only are next-door people neighbors, but countries next door are neighbors too. So my daughter explained that to him.

“I came here from the United States to go to college and ended up marrying my roommate’s brother, so Canada became my country. I have a married son and married daughter here, and the five children you often see with me are my grandchildren. My mother, a brother and a sister live in Winters, California. California is Canada’s neighbor to the south.”

The little guy nodded his head and thanked his neighbor.

One of the most familiar Bible stories is found in Luke 10:25-37 showing a religious scholar in discussion with Jesus, who asked, “What do I need to do to get eternal life?” In reply, Jesus answered, “What’s written in God’s law? How do you interpret it?”

The man responded, “That you love the Lord your God will all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence — and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.” This man was a Jewish scholar, thoroughly schooled in their law. He was quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. He correctly understood that the law demanded total devotion to God and love for one’s neighbor.

In response, Jesus said, “Good answer! Do it and you’ll live.”

“The man, looking for a loophole to trip up Jesus asked, ‘And just how would you define a neighbor?’ Jesus answered by telling a story. ‘There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man.

“‘A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning, he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill — I’ll pay you on my way back.’

“‘What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?’

“‘’The one who treated him kindly,’ the religious scholar responded.

“Jesus said, ‘Go and do the same.’” (Taken from The Message Bible)

From The New International Version (NIV) Life Application Study Bible notes, I learned there are three principles about loving our neighbor: (1) lack of love is often easy to justify, even though it is never right; (2) our neighbor is anyone of any race, creed or social background who is in need; and (3) love means acting to meet the person’s need. Wherever you live, there are needy people close by. There is no good reason for refusing to help.

I think we witnessed true neighborly-type love in the Las Vegas massacre recently. And I believe this can stand as an example to all of us as to how to respond to a scene such as this. The response was exemplary.

But closer to home, we are good, kind, giving, thoughtful people here in Winters — you stand aside, smile and open doors for me when I come by, slowly pushing and hanging on to my rolling walker. You even tip your caps when you see me. Gentlemen. Respectful. Neighborly. Thank you. In answer to a little boy’s inquiry, “What’s a neighbor?” I could point to my neighbors here.


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