A teacher of the Law asked the Lord, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?"
What does the Law say?
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and mind, and soul and love your neighbor as yourself.
You have answered correctly. Do this and you will live.
But, Lord, who is my neighbor?
The Lord replied, "A woman was having many trials in her life. She had found a lump in her breast and needed surgery. Fortunately, it turned out to be benign. However, just four days after surgery and though the woman also had a daughter who was critically ill, her boss, an elder in a local evangelical church, demanded she come to work on her normally scheduled day off because the office was short-staffed. She was incredulous but dragged her still weakened self to work because she mistakenly regarded her boss as a "friend." Shortly after this he fired her and refused to give a reason although the office manager commended her work ethic and skills.
Some time later the woman became frighteningly ill and this time it really was cancer. She had recently left her congregation though her son and husband stayed there. She and her family had been involved in that church in many ways for nearly 20 years. When the pastor learned from the woman's husband that she was ill he told the man he was sorry to hear it. He never called the woman, never sent a note, never asked the husband to express his concern for the woman he had known. Later, when the woman visited the church for an event her son was involved in the pastor made demeaning comments from the pulpit about "those people over at the ashram."
Meanwhile, the woman had met a female monk from the ashram. They exchanged pleasantries only twice. When the monk learned of the woman's illness she asked if she could have the woman's email address and phone number to keep in touch before and after surgery and treatment. True to her word, the monk checked in on the woman several times asking how she was doing, if there was anything needed, letting her know she was offering prayers for the woman's well-being. When the woman said she was feeling sad about the need for being quarantined from human touch during treatment the monk checked on her more often during that period of time to provide encouragement in the loneliness. When the quarantine was over the monk gave the woman a big, loving hug and rejoiced with the woman over the good report from the doctor."
Which of these do you think was a neighbor to the woman facing trials?
The one who showed loved to the woman.
The Lord said, "Go and do likewise."
I give thanks for the folks who demonstrated love to me in my time of need, whether I share their theology or not. I am honored by their friendship and blessed by their kindness. I can only hope to reciprocate adequately when the opportunities arise. I will not remain in the presence of those who would demean them.