Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

I’ve been think a lot about neighbors recently. I imagine that’s because when we move to our new home, we will lose our current neighbors and have to get to know new neighbors.

The neighbors on either side of our house and directly across the street were all here when we moved into this house 30 years ago. Our neighbors to the north have three grown children who live someplace other than Colorado, and have since we moved in. Our neighbors to the south have no children, and were original owners of the home in which they live. Our neighbors across the street have two sons, both of whom were around Court’s age when we moved in.

I remember that our neighbor to the south brought over a plate of brownies the first week we moved in. I didn’t talk to her again for 10 years. The husband of the couple who lived in the house north of us was diagnosed with Parkinson’s not long after we moved in. As such, I didn’t talk to her for years, until he passed away. I can understand now that she was too busy caring for her husband to be too neighborly. We got to know the neighbors across the street best because of the ages of our kids. Kids bring neighbors together, don’t they? Still, we were never close friends.

Interestingly, our gospel reading this weekend was about neighbors and the Good Samaritan. The priest who said our Mass explained to us that Samaritan people were considered traitors to the Jews, and they were archenemies. “Saying Good Samaritan to the people to whom Jesus was talking was like saying “Good Terrorist” these days.” But Jesus used the Samaritan as his example of neighbor when one of his Jewish followers asked how to go to heaven.

Jesus, not to be fooled, turned the question back to the man by asking him what he thought. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, love your neighbor as yourself.

But, the man went on, “Who is my neighbor?”

While that might seem like a trick question, it really isn’t. Our neighbors are everybody else. If we love everybody — and are generous and kind to everybody — we are a long way towards getting to heaven.

Apparently believing that repetition is the best way of learning, our priest repeated at least six or seven times — at the beginning of Mass, during the homily, and at the end of Mass — We aren’t kind to someone because they’re Catholic, we’re kind to others because WE’RE Catholic.

You can substitute other words for the word Catholic: Christian, Jewish, a good person. The point is that we are rewarded for being good because it’s the right thing to do.

Perhaps if I had kept this more front of mind during my 30 years in this house, I would be closer friends with my next-door neighbors. A good lesson to take to my next dwelling.