It's Sunday morning and in a little less than an hour we will begin celebrating the Eucharist. The Gospel for today is the very familiar story of the exchange between Jesus and a lawyer who asks, "Who is my neighbor?"
That, of course, is the wrong question and it is our constant focus on that question that has led us into so much trouble. We want to know how closely we can set the limits of our love for the neighbor. This person is my neighbor whom I am commanded to love, but that person over there is the Other, the Stranger, the Enemy, and I don't have to love that person.
It is the asking and answering of that question that led to the death of Trayvon Martin. Whether George Zimmerman is guilty of a crime or not, he, like all the rest of us, is guilty of deciding that some people aren't neighbors and we don't have to love them.
In challenging the lawyer with what we call the Parable of the Good Smaritan, Jesus focused on what it means to act with neighbor-love. Jesus shocked his hearers by saying that it was the Outsider, the Other, the Enemy, who showed neighbor-love, who fulfilled the commandments.
Jesus challenges us as well. If we are to be a blessing to the nations, to all people, we need to stop asking, "Who is my neighbor?" and ask, "How can I love my neighbor more extravagantly?"