“Thy Neighbour As Thyself”


(Adapted from an April 1999 general conference address. See Ensign, May 1999, pages 28–29.)
Hath he commanded any that they should depart out of … the houses of worship? Behold, I say unto you, Nay … ; but all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden (2 Ne. 26:26, 28).

A few years ago, my wife and I served as a resource to a little inner-city branch of the Church. Our meetings were held in one of the most troubled neighborhoods of a large eastern city.

One Sunday, right in the middle of the branch sacrament meeting, a woman walked in the door off the street. A homeless woman, she was wearing dirty, ragged clothes, and she was coughing, choking, and blowing her nose into a filthy handkerchief. In a loud, hoarse voice, she said, “I want to sing! I want to pray!” and walked right to the front row, sat down next to a member who was wearing a white blouse, leaned against her, and laid her head on her shoulder. The member immediately put her arms around this guest and held her in her arms throughout the remainder of the meeting.

It happened that the speaker had been talking about the parable of the Good Samaritan as the woman came in. As this woman coughed and choked, the speaker continued telling of the parable. As he came to the end of his talk and was quoting a relevant scripture, suddenly, in a loud voice, this homeless woman finished giving the verse that the speaker had begun.

In talking of this after sacrament meeting with the speaker, we thought it had probably been a long time since someone had affectionately put an arm around our visitor. We wondered what better illustration you could have of the parable of the Good Samaritan than what we had just seen, and we were reminded of the Savior’s words that preceded His telling of that parable, “Thou shalt love … thy neighbour as thyself” (Luke 10:27).

[illustration] Illustrated by Greg Thorkelson