But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29)
In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus concretely defines who our neighbor is. Our neighbor is whoever needs our help, regardless of situation, status, skin color, or belief. Even more broadly, our neighbor is the Other, anyone who is outside of ourselves. Jesus’ ultimate example, which we are preparing to immerse ourselves in during this Lenten season, is His Passion, Death and Resurrection. Jesus’ sacrifice for us illuminates the essence of true love: willing the good of the other.
In these times of both intense closeness and intense separation due to COVID-19, I believe it would be helpful to pause and marvel at what we are achieving as a society.
This virus has forced us to make radical and rapid changes as it continues to move through the world. We have cancelled school, closed restaurants, suspended sporting events, limited travel, even cancelled Mass. As of this writing, many nursing homes have self-imposed quarantines for the safety of their residents. Many cities are imposing curfews to encourage people to stay at home.
Why? Why are we doing all of this? Because we know, deep within us, the value of human life. This virus is showing us that everyone, literally everyone, is our neighbor. And everyone is worthy of our concern, care and attention. This is why we are staying home. We are not simply protecting ourselves, we are protecting others as well. In fact, the cancellations and closures demonstrate just how important it is to be considerate and protect others.
We do not live in a bubble. Our every action has ripple effects throughout our community. This has been highlighted by the COVID-19 measures.
With logic of sacrifice, our newfound isolationist lifestyles are actually bold proclamations of community. By willingly socially distancing ourselves from others, we are in fact working together to keep everyone safe. We are sacrificing our togetherness now so that we can be together on the other side of this crisis.
Copyright 2020 Kate Taliaferro