Most of us are busy. We hardly have time to keep up with the relationships around us. That is not surprising. The simple math of relationships – family, friends, coworkers, church attendees and a host of other regular passing acquaintances – are enough. With these we fail to keep up. Most busy people are not looking for more. Add to these relationships the tasks required of us and many speak of being overwhelmed.
I thought about the parable of the Good Samaritan in this context. This is how the story goes.
“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (The Holy Bible : Today's New International Version., Lk 10:30–37 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005)).
I am sure the Samaritan had something else to do. He was on the way somewhere, whether for business or family doesn’t matter. He was busy and perhaps his life was full of relationships and activities. But he stopped. A person he did not know interrupted his life. He picked him up. He brought him to a safe place. He paid for lodging and for healing. I am sure he had plans for that money. Perhaps he was on the way to buy supplies for his business. Perhaps he was on the way to help a family member. Perhaps he was doing long required renovations on his home. Perhaps, but he made room for this stranger in his life. He knew how to be a neighbour.
Being a neighbour is important for our community. Recently a colleague had a conversation about crime prevention. Bottom line, being good neighbours to each other reduces crime. I see children in my neighbourhood connecting with each other, parents supporting each other, and grandparents giving wonderful support. I can’t help but notice that good neighbours create good and safe spaces for children.
But it all starts with a simple movement: choose not to pass by but to stop. Busyness is no excuse. Being on the way to somewhere, someone else is no excuse. Say hello. Give a helping hand. Show some kindness. Be generous. Make room in your heart for the other. Be a good neighbour. The whole community will be richer for it.