Who are our neighbors?

What’s the first Bible story you ever heard? Maybe it was the parable of the Good Samaritan. Do you remember the story? A man was on a trip, and some robbers beat him up, stole his things, and left him there. Two people went by—and they were people you’d expect to help— but they ignored him. Finally a third person came. Even though he was a foreigner and a stranger from Samaria, he did everything he could to help the poor, beaten-up man. This Samaritan saved his life!

Do you know your neighbors? Sometimes we do, and sometimes we might not. In the story today, Jesus tells somebody to, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself”! The man answered Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Yes, who are our neighbors? Our neighbor is anybody we run into during the day. Sometimes we expect to run into somebody who needs our help, like a friend at school who always asks you for help. Sometimes it’s a surprise! But God wants us to be like the Good Samaritan. He wants us to help anybody who comes our way. Sometimes we help by praying for somebody. Sometimes we help by giving money or food. Sometimes we help by giving somebody our time. When somebody needs our help, let’s ask God to show us the best way. Can you remember that?

SAINT JOHN THE MERCIFUL: HOW FAR CAN YOU GO?

Lots of times, we hear stories about people who are very, very powerful. Sadly, sometimes they use their power just for themselves! But happily, St. John the Merciful was not one of those people.

St. John was the patriarch of Constantinople, which means he was the very highest leader of our Church. St. John is called the “merciful” because he always was thinking of other people, especially the poor. He always tried to help anybody he could, just like the Good Samaritan did in our Gospel lesson today.

There is a funny but wonderful story about St. John. Even though he was the patriarch, he gave away lots of his things. He even slept on the floor because he gave away his bed! Once, a rich man gave St. John the most beautiful quilt, as a special present. St. John thanked him, but later he sold the quilt and gave the money to the poor. The next day, this same man saw the quilt in the market, and bought it again! Again, St. John sold it and gave the money to the poor! This happened again and again. The rich man knew what was happening, and the patriarch (St. John) told him, “We will see who gives up first!”

Do you see how far St. John went to help the poor? Lots of times, helping others means giving up something you might want for yourself!

We celebrate the feastday of Saint John today, November 12th (Nov. 25th, OC).

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