ONGOING TENSIONS between neighboring countries, such as Pakistan and India, or Israel and Syria, or between neighbors within the same country, such as Sudan and Darfur, highlight a need to continually and prayerfully understand what it means to be a neighbor. It's heartening to see, for example, how African leaders are starting to show more leadership to solve problems between neighbors in Sudan (see Commentary/Opinion/2010/0126/African-leaders-are-finally-solving-African-problems).

From a spiritual perspective, it's clear that prayer can surely ease these conflicts and raise the level of trust on both sides, at the same time revealing that we are all worldwide neighbors. A story from the Bible is instructive. Jesus' response to the lawyer who asked, "Who is my neighbor?" evoked what has since been called the parable of the good Samaritan, found in the book of Luke (see 10:30—37). This tale of a foreigner aiding the victim of a mugging, when neither the wounded man's own people nor the followers of his religion would do so, pointed Jesus' listeners to a new paradigm of neighborliness. They recognized in the age-old commandment to love your neighbor as yourself the edict to see beyond the confines of affiliation and proximity to the larger view of spiritual community.

Although the lawyer's original intent may have been to trick Jesus with his question, he understood fully the far-reaching impact of Jesus' parable. When Jesus asked the lawyer which of the story's three passersby was most neighborly to the injured man, he answered, "He that shewed mercy on him." Jesus' profound reply to him was to go and do the same.

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Testimony of Healing
March 22, 2010

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