Jesus continued, “What do you think? Which one of the three became a neighbour to the man attacked by robbers?” “The one who treated his kindly,” the religion scholar responded. Jesus said, “Go and do the same”. (Luke 10: 36 – 37)
Late for an evening meeting, I was running for a bus when I tripped and skid headlong on the footpath. I hopped back on my feet and caught up with the bus, huffing and puffing and embarrassed. The stares from people in the crowded seats and aisle tipped me off to the fact that my hands and nose were bleeding. I hid my hands in my jacket pocket after trying to wipe the blood from my nose. I felt uncomfortable, and in the age of blood-borne diseases, a pariah.
A man I knew from church turned his head to look intently out the window. A woman reading her Bible kept her head down reading. A bag lady who everyone had avoided looked at me and reached into one of her shopping bags. She pulled out a fresh, pristine packet of facial tissues. Her face contorted into a chipped-tooth smile as she handed me the packet. I smiled at her, grateful for her kindness.
I had made jokes about “bag women” in the past and felt guilty. And I’d slipped a few dollars to such women from time to time and felt secretly proud. Today, I finally looked at the woman and saw her for who she was – my neighbour.