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Presiding Bishop’s message, “Who is my neighbor?”

I’m Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church. It goes without saying that there is a humanitarian crisis at the southern border of the United States. It is a human crisis, a crisis that has deep and complex roots, sources, and origins. But it is a crisis, a crisis of the human children of God.

There is suffering and there is hardship.

There is complexity and difficulty.

But it is a crisis that we as nation, that we as a global community, must face and find a way forward for the sake of our brothers and our sisters, for the sake of us all.

Deeply embedded in the Christian faith, indeed deeply embedded in the Jewish tradition, which is the mother of the Christian faith, and deeply embedded in the faith and traditions and values of many of the world’s great religions, is a profound conviction in a sure and certain value and virtue that care for the stranger, the alien, the visitor, is a sacred duty, a sacred vow.

In the Hebrew scriptures in the book of Deuteronomy, the book writes and says you shall love the stranger, for remember you were once strangers in the land of Egypt.

In the 25th chapter of Matthew in the New Testament, Jesus in the parable of the last judgment says that when you welcomed the stranger, when you did it to these who are members of my family, you have done it to me.

When you welcome the stranger, you welcome Jesus. The book of Hebrews in the New Testament says those who have welcomed the strangers have sometimes welcomed angels unawares.

Welcoming the stranger, or as some translations call the alien, welcoming those who are visiting among us is a cardinal virtue and value in our Christian faith.

Jesus was talking to a lawyer once; the story is told in Luke’s gospel. And, when he was talking to the lawyer, the lawyer asked him what he must do to inherit eternal life. And Jesus said, what did Moses teach in the Hebrew scriptures? The lawyer said, well, Moses said you shall love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself.

And Jesus said do that and you will find life.

But the lawyer went on and he asked, well, can we define neighbor more precisely? Who is my neighbor? And that’s when Jesus told what we now know as the Parable of the Good Samaritan where one person helped another person, a person who was completely unlike them, someone that person considered other, not my tribe, not my nationality, not my religion, not even my friend. And Jesus at the end of the parable said, who was the neighbor to the man who was in need? And the lawyer said, well the one who actually showed compassion.

And Jesus said, now go and do that likewise.

That parable of the Good Samaritan invites us, calls us, challenges us, to be neighbor to the neighbor.

Some of our neighbors are at the border and some of our neighbors are those who have immigrated to this country and are living right in our neighborhood or in our city or in our community, or our state. To show compassion to them is to obey Jesus. Go and do likewise.

Show compassion. Show mercy. Help the neighbor. Help the stranger. Love the Lord your God. And love your neighbor as yourself.

Find migration, refugee, and immigration information and ways you can take action on your own here (OGR/EPPN) and here (EMM).