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Being a Good Neighbor


Greg-Kep-smallBy Gregory Kepferle, CEO
Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County

The timid knock on the front door came at mid-day, followed by a slightly more confident buzz of the doorbell. Opening the door, I greeted a neighbor accompanying two of her grandchildren. By the bags of cookies the little girls carried, I knew my doom was at hand. We exchanged pleasantries, money and cookies – and the deal was done. This brief exchange was possible because my neighbor knew us. She trusted that my wife or I would open the door and respond with kindness (as well as with a weakness for cookies.) It was also possible, because as our neighbor, I knew and trusted her, too. While this was a short pleasant encounter, at other times we rely on our neighbors for mundane tasks, to pick up the mail or to feed pets while we’re out of town. And then there are times when people really need help due to an accident, the loss of a job, an illness or a death in the family. Neighbors who are able to help in these situations truly are friends.

So imagine the reaction of the lawyer when Jesus answered his question about who was his neighbor with the story we know today as the Good Samaritan. The priest and the Levite would be natural neighbors to the lawyer, yet they ignore the man beaten by robbers lying wounded on the side of the road. It was the heretic, the outsider Samaritan whom the lawyer agreed was the neighbor because he acted with care for the wounded stranger, binding his wounds and taking him to an inn to be cared for by the innkeeper. And Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Today we have the opportunity to “go and do likewise” — to be good neighbors, Good Samaritans and Good Innkeepers, with so many of our own neighbors in need right here in Santa Clara County. We do this by our individual acts of generosity and also by our organized efforts as a church through partnering with Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County helping thousands of people beaten down by poverty, the loss of work, mental and physical illness, hunger, poor education, incarceration, war, homelessness, or loneliness. Thanks to so many of our good neighbors we are able to reduce poverty, bringing healing and hope to our neighbors in need. I invite you to learn more by going to