“Who is my neighbor?” is the follow up question a lawyer posed to Jesus after first asking Him, “Master, what I shall do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus countered by asking the lawyer, “What is written in the law?” To which the lawyer replied, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.”
Jesus commended the man’s answer saying, “Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.” Not willing to stop there, the lawyer delved deeper, and asked the all important question, “Who is my neighbor?” To settle the question once and for all, Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan.
In the story Jesus tells of a ‘certain man’ traveling down the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, and en route to his destination he was beaten, stripped of his clothing, and robbed. The thieves left the man lying in the road almost dead.
Then along comes a priest travelling the same road, and seeing the injured man passes him by on the other side of the road. Next, came a Levite, who looked at the man, but he too did nothing to help, and walked on.
All looked hopeless, then along came the Good Samaritan, who when he saw the beaten man compassionately knelt down, cleaned and bandaged his wounds. He then set him on his own animal, and took him to an inn. There he tended to his wounds further, and upon leaving the next morning paid the innkeeper, and asked him to look after the wounded traveler, and anything further payment owed he would pay him when he returned.
Jesus then asked the lawyer, which of the three men was a neighbor to the wounded man, to which the lawyer replied it was the man who had shown the wounded man mercy. Jesus told the lawyer to do the same. The following news stories indicate the priest and Levite types far outnumber the Good Samaritans.
- · On February 22, 2012, 86-year-old World War II veteran, Aaron Brantley was forcefully pulled from his car at a Fairfield, Michigan gas station. Brantley’s car was taken by a thief, who also broke one of Brantley’s legs during the carjacking. Surveillance cameras captured Brantley dragging himself from the gas pump to the gas station, and person after person walk past him, some not even looking at him. Once inside the store, Brantley offered to pay someone to take him home. A customer inside the gas station did take him home, and did not take any money.
- · October 13, 2011 two-year-old Wang Yue, nicknamed Yue Yue, became separated from her mother, Qu, and walked into the middle of a narrow market street in Foshan City in Guandog province. Yue Yue was struck twice by two vans. The driver of the first van ran over Yue Yue, leaving her lying in the street, where she was ran over again by a second van. As she lay in the street a total of eighteen pedestrians and cyclists walked past, or rode past her without coming to her aid until 57-year-old Chen Xianmei saw her, and pulled her out of the street.
- · June 6, 2008, surveillance video caught another incriminating view of society, when 78-year-old Angel Arce Torres became a hit and run victim as he was attempting to cross Park Street in Hartford, Connecticut. As the critically injured Torres lay in the street, nine drivers drove past without stopping, and nearly a minute went by before anyone ventured from the sidewalk to his side to help or divert traffic. Help for Torres arrived when a police unit driving through the vicinity saw him, and called an ambulance.
- · But case that continues to baffle police and psychologist is the Catherine “Kitty” Genovese case that happened 48 years ago on March 14, 1964. Genovese was stalked, and stabbed in three separate events during a 35-minute period, the third time fatally as tenants in her apartment building looked on. Police who investigated the case say at least 38 people witnessed some phase of the murder of Genovese.
Is our neighbor the person next door, or a person of the same ethnicity, gender, nationality? The four cases above scream that anyone who needs our help is our neighbor.
So, how will you respond when an Aaron Brantley, Yue Yue, Angel Arce Torres, or a Catherine “Kitty” Genovese crosses your path?