During a conversation we once had about our grandfather and how he lived his life my brother, Richard, remarked that he took care of everybody. “EVERYBODY!” he emphasized. And it is true that our grandfather, a successful businessman in his time, was a man with a most generous spirit who shared his prosperity with others. He took care of people. We know that for a fact, not only from our own childhood experiences but also from the stacks of old letters and documents we’ve found among family archives acknowledging his generosity. The greatest evidence, though, has come from the countless stories we’ve been told through the years by those who were witnesses to or beneficiaries of our grandfather’s benevolence.
At the very core of all Judeo-Christian teachings are two basic closely related commandments, to love God and love our neighbor. “And who is my neighbor?” a man once asked Jesus according to the New Testament (Luke 10:27). The man, an expert in the law, was challenging Jesus to provide greater clarity about the commandment. Jesus responded as he often did in parable, perhaps the most familiar of them all, the parable of the Good Samaritan. So widely accepted is this story among our society in fact – well beyond Christian circles – that whenever someone is credited with helping a stranger in need that person is commonly referred to as a Good Samaritan.
“And who is my neighbor?” If my brother’s observations about our grandfather are correct he would have answered, “EVERYBODY”, although in his humanness I’m sure he overlooked some in need and perhaps overindulged others who were less so. Nonetheless he demonstrated by the way he lived his life a clear understanding of “who is my neighbor” – immediate and extended family, employees, members of his beloved community, all within his reach, EVERYBODY.
In Charles Dickens classic story, “A Christmas Carol”, Scrooge is confronted by the ghost of his late business partner, Jacob Marley, who cries out in agony and regret over the way he had lived his life. “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business.” . . . So we ask ourselves, “And who is our neighbor?” EVERYBODY! And what is our business? Mankind is our business. May the year ahead bring us all greater love for our neighbor and success in our business. . . . . That’s it for this year. See you the first Monday in January. God’s blessings! Dan