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Whisper quietly how you feel

By Hal Brady
Owner & operator of a Christian ministry in Decatur, Georgia

On the way to a meeting, I passed a florist truck. I couldn’t help but notice the advertisement on the side of the truck. The advertisement read: “Flowers whisper how you feel.”

Undoubtedly, that’s true. Flowers do whisper how you feel. But perhaps even more, compassion whispers how you feel.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus asked, “Which of these three do you think proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” The listener replied, “The one who showed mercy on him.” And Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:36,37).

I was once in a worship service where a youth group mimed this story. I remember the wounded person was stretched out on the floor. A figure representing the priest came by, took a look and turned his back. Another figure representing the Levite came by, took a longer look and turned her back.

At this point in the worship service, all of us present confessed our sins of omission and commission in unison and received absolution.

Then it was that the Samaritan came up, took a look, knelt down, put her arms around the wounded person and together they walked away. Immediately, we had altar prayer and renewed our commitment to God and compassion.

Now, the real point of this parable is not who is my neighbor, which is anybody in need, but how should I embody being a neighbor.

And that’s what I want to discuss in the rest of this article.

First, an authentic neighbor knows no boundaries.

Note that in the parable Jesus never identifies the wounded man by the side of the road.

The victim is only a “man” which means anyone at all (male, female, friend, foe, the different, anyone).

Underline it, if you will. The victim by the side of the road represents anyone in need.

The Samaritan simply enters into the wounded man’s situation. He has compassion on him. And, of course, the word compassion means to “suffer with.”

Writing in his book, “On The Brink of Everything, Parker J. Palmer states: “The renewal this nation needs will not come from people who are afraid of ‘otherness’ in race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation. Because of that fear, our once-vital society is gridlocked and stagnant, if not actively regressing. Our main hope for renewal is diversity welcomed and embraced.”

Tom Brady, the legendary quarterback of the New England Patriots, recently said of the late Kobe Bryant, “Kobe didn’t care whether you were a man or woman, boy or girl, black or white, rich or poor ordinary or extraordinary, he wanted to help you become the best you could be.”

Without doubt, the reason for this biblical story is that we can see our responsibility for those in need.

Second, an authentic neighbor moves beyond generalities. Again, I think of the Samaritan in our story. Simply put, he moved beyond generalities and actually offered his help. He bound up the victim’s wounds with his own hands, took the wounded man to the inn and paid the innkeeper to look after him.

The late Mother Teresa became an example to us of one who took responsibility for those in need.

She made it her commitment to God to rescue newborn infants from the trash cans of teeming cities and to carry dying people from the streets.

A large percentage of those she rescued died within a few days, so some people asked her why she bothered.

She answered that a human being has a right to die in a setting of love.”

It is my opinion that a human being also has a right to live in a setting of love.

Third, an authentic neighbor knows the power of a good deed. A single act may change the atmosphere of life and create a whole new spirit.

As someone observed, “Even a slight increase in good deeds on the part of each of us would change the world.”

A person of faith never doubts that his or her word and deed are important to God and that by such small affairs the world may be renewed and even redeemed.

In conclusion, nothing lifts the heart of another like a good deed performed quietly by an authentic neighbor. And such is the way of the kingdom of God.