The Words of the Haines Family

Who is my neighbor?

William Haines
February 1, 2011

Recently I have been revisiting the parable of the Good Samaritan and was pleasantly surprised by what I discovered. But for those of you who haven't opened the good book recently here it is:

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

26 "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"

27 He answered, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

28 "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"

30 In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.

31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.

32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.

34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.

35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'

36 "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"

37 The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."

Although we may have heard this story many times there were a few things came to me I hadn't noticed before. First of all the main question this parable is answering is not 'who is my neighbor?' as this is a sub-question to the bigger question, 'what must I do to inherit eternal life?' In other words what must I do to be saved or to go to heaven? We'll come to that later.

What is striking is that Jesus doesn't answer the person but asks him what he thinks. He is genuinely interested in the views and opinions of others. It is the expert in the law that then gives the classic summary of the law we normally attribute to Jesus -- namely to love God and love one's neighbor. What this person was expressing was the common understanding among Jews in Jesus' day. So far from thinking that they would be saved by obeying every detail of the law -- which is how St Paul and most Christians have characterized first century Jews, they understood the heart of the law and knew what was most important in living a spiritual life.

The two loves the scholar picked out were verses from the Torah. (Deut. 6:5 and Lev. 19:18) So loving God and loving one's neighbor is at the heart of Judaism and Christianity. It is also the heart of the Divine Principle which describes them technically as the foundation of faith (loving God) and foundation of substance (loving your neighbor). Not very poetical but if one wants to understand the Principle and Father's words one should do so on the basis of the Biblical tradition otherwise one just ends up reading one's own ideas into it.

The Torah scholar wanted a more precise definition of who his neighbor was and in response Jesus tells the parable. Often people think the point of this story is that we should be nice to each other. Actually it is the answer to the bigger question I drew attention to before -- 'what must I do to gain eternal life?'

Who was the person who loved his neighbor? It was a Samaritan. Now the Samaritans and Jews were both descendants of Abraham and each thought theirs was the true religion and the other's a deviation. Thus some of Jesus' Jewish audience may have thought that they were the only ones entitled to go to heaven. The idea that a Samaritan might go to heaven whereas a priest and a Levite would not was shocking. Yet this is what Jesus was saying.

The priest, who walked past on the other side, may have thought he was too busy doing God's work to help. He had to get to the Temple on time and anyway, he didn't want to become impure by getting involved. The Levite, the chosen amongst the chosen, maybe thought he was saved because of his lineage. But Jesus is showing the expert in the law the consequences of his own understanding of the law.

He is revealing to him a reading he may not have thought of namely that one doesn't go to heaven because one belongs to a particular nationality or religion or race or class or lineage. That one is not saved because one has the 'right beliefs' or has been through certain rituals or ceremonies. Instead the only criteria is one's love for God and one's neighbor. This is quite comforting in one way as it means everyone has a chance. In another it is quite unsettling as it challenges religious institutions that like to draw boundaries suggesting that they are the elect and that one cannot go to heaven unless one belongs to their group.

So what is Father Moon's take on this question -- who is my neighbor? Home Church. Home Church is the place to practice the Principle and fulfill the 8 vertical and horizontal stages so as to achieve salvation. The place to inherit the love of God by learning how to love every type of person. In these 360 homes one can meet every type of person from every sort of background, nationality, race, religion, age and class. God loves every single person. To become like God we need to get out of our comfort zone where we hang out with our family and friends and learn to love every kind of person. We are not saved because we belong to the Unification Church or because we are blessed. We can only go to heaven when we restore hell and create heaven and the place to do this is in Home Church. 

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