When talking about neighbours, everyone has a story to tell. It is a blessing to have a good neighbour, because your house is secured better than any commercial security company can provide. Others know very little about their next door neighbours. Others again, lament something like: 'it is horrible to know that my next door neighbour is a criminal or a terrorist and I knew nothing about it'. It is the benefit of the unknown, otherwise they'd live in fear all the time. The common understanding of neighbours includes people who live on our right or left, and at the back or opposite of our property. We may extend it to people either seated next to us at public places or public events. When we see victims on a road side we may show some concern for them, but certainly we don't count them as our neighbours.
Our concept of neighbouring is very limited. The biblical teaching about neighbouring is for everyone: 'Love your God with all your heart .... and your neighbour as yourself'. Lk 10,27 . When a lawyer asked Jesus 'who is our neighbour?(v.29). Jesus gave a concrete example; He told the parable of a man, who happened to be beaten by the bandits, who left him half- dead on the road. Both the priest and the Levite saw the victim, but neither of them helped the man. A Samaritan saw him. He anointed and bandaged the victim, and entrusted the man to the inn keeper nearby. He covered the expenses, and promised to give extra on his way back from business. After telling the parable, Jesus asked the lawyer: 'Which of these three, do you think, proved himself a neighbour to the man who fell into the brigands' hands?'(v.37). The Samaritan proved to be a neighbour of the victim. In this context, a neighbour is a stranger, a victim, whom the Samaritan met for the first time on his way to do business. He made no distinction of personal background, occupation or race. The lawyer's answer identified the Samaritan. It didn't mean the priest, the Levite, and even the bandits, weren't qualified to be neighbours of the victim. They were all neighbours, but the Samaritan was best suited to the concept of neighbouring Jesus was teaching: 'love your neighbour as yourself'. The Samaritan loved the victim as himself. The others loved themselves more and loved the neighbour less. The Samaritan was a good neighbour who showed his compassion for those in need; the bandits were criminal (or bad neighbours) and they loved money more than life, and had no trouble in violating the rights of others just because of their greed for money. The priest and Levite were neighbours who showed more concern for keeping the law of purity than for the life of the victim on the road.
There is wisdom in learning about the use of money. When we have little money, we are in trouble; when we have too much of it, others are in trouble. The Samaritan showed that money couldn't control him, but rather he was in control of his money. We pray for that wisdom.
At the national level, we have problems with our neighbouring countries. The Arms race means we strive constantly to protect our borders from invasion by neighbouring countries. If world leaders took heed of Jesus' teaching about the concept of neighbouring, there would be plenty of extra money for spending on education, and hospital services.