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YOUR NEIGHBOR AND YOURSELF
October 20, 2005
 
Today's eMo is intended for preachers who wish to focus their congregations' attention on the Church's ministry to the poor and victims of natural disasters or war through the work of Episcopal Relief and Development. As with all the eMos, preachers and teachers are welcome to borrow, with the usual attribution. No further permission is necessary.
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Exodus 22:21-27
Psalm 1
I Thessalonians 2:1-8
Matthew 22:34-46
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Your Neighbor and Yourself

"`You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: `You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'
Matthew 22:36-37


The tropical storms of 2005 have reached the end of the English alphabet -- any more, and the list will overflow into the Greek. Almost two weeks after the earthquake in Pakistan and Kashmir, many of the injured still have not seen a doctor. Their broken limbs have become infected, gangrenous -- there will be many double amputees.

On the radio, commentators wonder about our compassion fatigue: can we keep giving in the face of such unremitting disaster? And, if these disasters are a harbinger of things to come, will the hearts of those who have much be able to stay the course and keep pace with the need of those who have nothing?

Our answer to this question cannot lie in our ability to predict the future -- we don't have that ability. We can answer only by continuing what we are doing: praying for strength and guidance and then putting one foot in front of the other. keeping our eyes on the mission: we respond to people in times of crisis and suffering. Prayer is answered, and it is usually answered in the form of changed human hearts. There are a lot of suffering people. But there are more who are not suffering, not right now, not yet. The supply of what is needed is still much greater than the need -- changed human hearts will get it where it needs to be.

Baton Rouge, Little Rock, Birmingham, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, Memphis, Atlanta, New York -- is your community among these? Displaced victims of Hurricane Katrina are resettling temporarily -- or maybe permanently -- in all of those cities, aided by Episcopal Relief and Development's partnership with Episcopal Migration Ministries, which links those who can welcome a family for an extended period of time with families who need that welcome.

Can we do a hurricane and an earthquake and a mudslide and an AIDS pandemic? And another hurricane? We're going to have to. We will do our best, and others will do their best, and we will all do out best together.

No one agency or country or person can end human suffering alone. All we can do is decide what kind of person or country or church we will be. If we remain focused on the duty of compassion, we will reap the joy of it, mixed always with sorrow at the tragedy that occasioned the need in the first place. If we do not remain so focused, we will be alone with our expensive toys, and the joy of them becomes a thin soup a lot sooner than we think it will when they are shiny and new.

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