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In today’s Gospel we read a powerful parable. Spoken by Jesus, the story seeks to define what it means to be a neighbor.

The parable begins with a man who has just fallen victim to robbers on the side the road. He is injured and unable to continue his journey. Two religious leaders pass by the man without stopping to help. Finally, a third individual, identified as a Samaritan, approaches. He stops, cares for the man’s injuries, and provides him a place to recover.

When Jesus has finished reciting the story, he asks the listener which of the travelers acted as a neighbor to the victim.

The listener replies, “The one who treated him with mercy.”

Through these words we understand that our role as neighbor is not defined by who we share a country or culture with. Our role as neighbor is defined by compassion, need, and our willingness to provide support.

The lesson of this parable is one that is especially relevant today. While inequity prevails around the globe, the gap between who has and who does not is exacerbated by violent conflicts and other crises. It is our responsibility to step up as neighbors and offer compassionate care and support for families suffering due to poverty and natural or manmade disasters.

For mothers in the remote communities where we work, limited access to healthcare means their children often suffer from preventable diseases, including severe malnutrition. CMMB-supported community health workers are embracing their role as the neighbors Jesus describes to reach children and mothers in desperate need of basic health services. In doing so, they’re able to identify cases of malnutrition before they become severe.

We will conclude today’s reflection with the words of Sitali, a mother in Zambia whose child, Catherine, was reached with life-saving support by a community health worker. We hope it inspires you to celebrate the impact we can have when we embrace the role of neighbor. If you’re interested, we encourage you to read more about Sitali and Catherine on our blog by clicking HERE.

During the time Catherine had stunted growth, the CMMB community health worker regularly visitedme and shared health education on how to take care of my child.

As a mother, seeing my daughter underweight was such a disheartening experience. Now, I feed her at least four times a day. When I look at Catherine, I feel happy because she is slowly getting back to normal and is now more active.

Portions of today’s reflection were adapted from and inspired by the Loyola Press Sunday Connection.