Who is your neighbour? Is it someone staying east, west, north or south of your home? Is it your community or is it your village? If you live in a city are the other tenants living in your apartment building? Or the various apartment buildings; surrounding you are your neighbour’s? It’s all this and infinitely more. Where love is reciprocal – your family and friends, they are not your neighbour’s.
A neighbour is one who hates you, despises you, talks ill of you and has an axe to grind with you or someone who has no affiliations with you at all and towards whom you hold no responsibility whatsoever. In such a scenario how do you respond to these unknown entities afflictions?
In the scriptures we are told of the parable of “The Good Samaritan”- Luke 10:25-37. A lawyer stands up to test Jesus, he said “What do I do to inherit eternal life?” He (Jesus) said to him “What is written in the law.....” he answered “You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself.”
To set the perspective and definition of a neighbour once and for all, Jesus then told the parable of a man, who, travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers who striped him, beat him and went away leaving him half dead. The one who passed him and took compassion on him was not a priest nor a Levite but a Samaritan who had no affiliation with the man but had pity on him and with compassion tended to his wounds until he recovered.
Man is instinctively evil from the beginning of time. Religion and Scriptures make him aware of this inherent evil. Our journey in life is to cleanse ourselves of this evil and to make ourselves humane to lead life with a minimum of errors. In Genesis 1:15-25, Cain kills his brother Abel only because “God looked with favour on Abel and his offering. But did not look with favour on Cain and his offering”. For this treacherous act, though, by Cain, we are all warned ...... “ Very well then” the Lord replied “ if anyone kills Cain seven fold vengeance shall be taken for him”. So the Lord put a mark on Cain to prevent whoever might come across him from striking him down. So, what does it teach you? So very simple yet very difficult and complex. To find favour with God Cain should have shed his ego, looked within, asked himself what are his faults? How should I find favour with the Lord next time or the next after next time? How should I pray fervently to improve my thoughts and deeds to the path of righteousness. Cain was Abel’s brother but there was only envy and jealousy in Cain’s heart that’s why Abel was Cain’s neighbour more than his brother. This Lenten Season let us cleanse the evil trait of Cain in all of us.
Jean-Paul Sartre said, “You know it’s quite a job starting to love somebody, you have to have energy, generosity, blindness....”. Love is the only way to eternal life as explained by Jesus.- it’s a commandment “ Love your neighbour as yourself”.