My neighbors—sons and daughters of God

No Man is an island, entire of itself" wrote the English Renaissance poet John Donne. A few lines later his poem continues, "Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind."

I find these lines increasingly relevant as the tension heightens in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East, and most people are affected in some way through their concern over such issues as terrorism, family members being called to military duty, or even economic circumstances such as rising gas costs. All of this reminds me of one of the central messages of Jesus' ministry. According to the Gospels, Jesus taught through his healing and preaching that we all have an obligation to care for one another. And for me, his parable of the good Samaritan (see Luke 10:25-37) illustrates this best.

Prompted by the question "Who is my neighbor?" Jesus told about a traveler who was beaten up, robbed, and left for dead. When a priest came upon him, he didn't stop to help, perhaps not wanting to render himself ceremonially unclean. Another supposedly holy man, a Levite, did the same. But when a Samaritan saw him, compassion moved him to bind up the traveler's wounded body and take him to an inn. There he paid for the man's initial care and then promised to come back and pay later for any further care that was required.

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'I value your life'
June 7, 2004

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