Read: Luke 10:25-37
Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” He answered, “You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”
But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
A global economy is not a modern phenomenon. Throughout history, economic factors in one part of the world have often shaped and affected those in another. Our economies did not suddenly cease to be local or regional with the advent of the modern age. Yet with the rise of mercantile capitalism over time and the development of a world market for resources and goods, we now speak of a global economy in a new way. These developments have been made more acute by information technology in the digital age, as well as by political developments that have removed older barriers to commerce between nation states. The nation state itself has come under increasing pressure from the twin forces of localism and supra-nationalism, leading to fissures within long-established political entities and to new combinations between states that question the absolute nature of a national economy.
In this new and evolving context, Christians must think again about the meaning of faithfulness in a global economy. We are helped by elements of our tradition inherited from the past that give us a critical edge in approaching these issues. Christianity itself is a global phenomenon, arising in one particular place among a particular people yet quickly finding itself in many places with the challenge of being both local and global, bringing with it the consequent challenge of nurturing the bonds of connection and affection between many peoples. Often failing in this last challenge, the vision of a global community is still very much a part of our theological and spiritual inheritance. This feature of our tradition provides us with a different vision of how people ought to relate to each other and live in community together.
In the global village, who is my neighbor? Jesus’ parable of the good Samaritan points toward the neighbor relationship transcending divisions between peoples.
What obligations, then, do we have toward one another?
O God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to you with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(The Book of Common Prayer, p. 230)
John Bauerschmidt serves as the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee.