I live in two different worlds, in Chicago and Gibson City. And in neither of these worlds do I know all my neighbors. So it seems that I have a bit of a problem with this rule. Of course Christ explains how this idea extends to everyone. Everyone is my neighbor. No matter where they live, they are my neighbor.
Jesus had his thought on this statement. "Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “'And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”"
The way in which Jesus begins the story, "a man was going . . . " seems to indicate that he was the one who was beaten. I must confess that if I was beaten like this I would be contacting the police! But Jesus doesn't directly address that issue. Instead he concentrates on the man, probably himself, who was,the victim.
So how do I treat everyone like a neighbor and how do I love my neighbors? The short and obvious answer is to treat them like they were Jesus! At the moment I am concentrating on telemarketers. You know the ones. They tend to call at dinner time, and through the early evening, and try to sell you something. Now my first response is to simply hang up the phone, perhaps having made an appropriate comment or two about them. But instead I simply interrupt their speech tell them I'm not interested, And thank them for their call. In many cases they reply nicely and terminate the conversation.
I also try to do this in person. Am I successful? No, I'm not. But I do try to treat everyone I meet as if they were Jesus. May our Lord forgive me when I do not succeed.
Thank you Father Benedict for your Rule's reminder,
Brother Oscar Romero