EVERYONE WHO REQUIRES OUR INTERVENTION IN ANY MANNER ON THIS EARTH IS INDEED OUR NEIGHBOUR
We are duty-bound to work for the uplift of refugees, destitute, outcasts and the penniless poor. We should be able to identify the causes of their misery, to hold them close, to console them and to serve as guides on their path. In the Old Testament, when three strangers arrived at the outer gate of Abraham’s residence, he bowed low before them. The Bible says he offered them cordial hospitality. Abraham’s hospitality is a model lesson for us to treat strangers with respect and to offer them welcome. He arranged a banquet for them. Abraham looked on those strangers as veritable apparitions of God.
My neighbour is not a stranger. He is indeed part and parcel of my existence itself. That no one should be belittled, however humble in appearance, is the insight implied in Abraham’s story. It often happens that we are tempted to look on and receive with respect those who seem to luxuriate in lucre. We tend to worship charming, pretty people. Our respect is often reserved for those in authority. On the other hand, we tend to despise the man on the street who apparently has nothing to offer us.
It was this attitude that Jesus tried to rectify among his followers. As the ocean of love, Jesus held close to his heart tax-collectors, sinners and prostitutes, and took special care not to despise them but to reclaim them as his friends. This attitude of compassion he highlighted as one of the blessings on the Last Judgment Day. “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Whatever his social image, the one who stays close to us is an image of God, and based on this understanding, we should respect and help him/her.
Every cloud need not come down as shower. Every ache needn’t pour out as tears. What God expects of us is to identify others’ silent sorrows and enable them to face the suffering with a helping hand.