Our neighborhood is the world which we are obligated to serve

Jacopo Bassano
The Good Samaritan
about 1562-3
Oil on canvas, 102.1 x 79.7 cm
Bought, 1856

For the Good Samaritan the world he knew was just in his sight of what he saw on the road he traveled. But today we have world wide almost instant communication to know not just our neighborhood or country but of the whole world. We cannot claim ignorance. Today thanks to modern science and engineering we can see the plight of others throughout the globe.

During the past month I have been reflecting upon how good life is for most Americans compared with many third world countries. It has been a difficult month for me. A few weeks ago a prostate biopsy was done after routine blood test showed my PSA blood level was elevated. I was diagnosed with an intermediate level cancer for which I subsequently underwent a high tech robotic assisted surgery by an experienced surgeon and his team. Imaging and pathology now show that I have better then 90% chance of being cured. All the while even just before I was anesthetized for surgery I prayed for Tigray. Even while in the hospital I could not take my mind off of the Tigray siege and ongoing hostilities in Ethiopia as well as Ukraine. After having lived in Ethiopia and then Tigray since 2012 until January 2021 it still feels very much like my home town as does the USA. 

I have actively studied religion and theology for the past twenty some years. One of the concepts that arose from studying Anglican concepts is personal versus collective salvation. There is no doubt that God created all mankind to be interdependent one on the other. The parable of the Good Samaritan where upon the protagonist helps a stranger in distress is a clear example of loving your neighbor. I am convinced we cannot reach a personal state of piety for Christianity by giving a blind eye to the plights of others.  When Jesus talks about the difficult of the wealthy to go to heaven for me he is clearly stating that we are called to do more with our lives than just to attend to our own needs or even just those of our immediate family and friends. The more freedom and capacity we have to act for others comes with a responsibility to act faithfully to our commitment to Christ.

Now that the modern medical science of America has with God’s grace given me a chance to live and be productive more than ever I hope to someday return to Tigray when the situation arises where we can continue the work of developing the university and health care capacities.