As I nurture my relationship with God by taking time to pray and thank God each day I picture my life as a glass that God is filling. As we live our lives rooted in God's love, the love of God that fills us up needs to be poured out and shared somewhere in community.
I recall story that Jesus told that is popularly called "the parable of the good Samaritan." Just before telling the story Jesus says that the most important thing to do in life is to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves. His listener then asks, "And who is my neighbor?"
Jesus goes on to tell a story about a man who is traveling along a road and is then attacked by bandits, robbed, and left for dead. Two people walk past the injured man doing nothing to help. A third person, finding the injured man stops to help and offer assistance. After telling the story Jesus asks his listener "Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?" To this Jesus' listener replies, "The one who showed him mercy."
The word mercy means "loving-kindness."
If showing mercy to one another is what makes us neighbors I want to be a neighbor to the people in my life, and I also want to be a neighbor to animals, especially those who are homeless and in need of adoption. Those who know me well also know that I want to be a neighbor to everything that has life as much as possible; people, animals both wild and domestic, and to the environment as a whole. I think this honors the teaching of Jesus and of God's love for the whole earth.
Today I was especially grateful to spend a few hours volunteering at Second Chance Animal Sanctuaries in Tioga County, PA with my friend Tony. We got to help by sweeping and mopping the floors, by spending time with the cats and dogs, and by taking a dog named Achilles for a walk around the property. There is so much neighborly love extended there by Shelter Manager Laura and by faithful volunteers who spend much more time there than we did. It is also encouraging to know that due to the commitment of Laura and regular volunteers the average stay of a dog in the shelter is 2 weeks before it gets a forever home. Here are a few photos of our good afternoon at the shelter:
I hope that God will give each of us opportunities to be a neighbor to others during the course of this week.