The Gospel today is asking us: who is our neighbour?
Loving people within our own social circle is not usually an exceptionally difficult thing to do. The difficulty in life is to love people who don’t reside in our chosen bubble.
How many of us truly love our neighbour just as Jesus taught? It can sometimes be difficult enough to love those whom we love: our family, our close friends. Even within this chosen circle there will be the usual spats and arguments, misunderstandings and heated unpleasantness. But how much harder when those whom we are called to call
‘neighbour’ are so different from us, who don’t share our own views on life, who in so many respects we would simply never know or come into contact with.
Despite this, Jesus showed us the way by giving us this parable. The story gives a Powerful view of the power of Christ’s love for all. It is difficult enough even in 2022 the cut through sinewy and established social barriers. But in the time of Jesus’s ministry this was all the more difficult. Christ, though, is saying that these conventions that we grow up with must not be blockages in the channel of his grace. We must prioritise love for our neighbour, and by doing so we are prioritising our relationship with God. If people think we are weird, if they think we are melting down our own social boundaries and getting involved with those we shouldn’t, then Jesus is telling us in today’s gospel that none of this matters. It is more important to show the love of God to those whom we are taught the dislike, than it is to cling to social convention.
Yes, we are taught to dislike people, whether passively or otherwise. By Simply listening to much of the media, youngsters are taught to dislike illegal immigrants. They are all tarnished with the same brush. In many senses it is convenient for us to simply think of them as money grabbers, as people who will do anything for an easier life in Ireland or the UK. But what about those who are so desperate to flee war-torn countries that they will put not only their own lives but those of their own children into peril? And it has become so dreadful that when the RNLI rescue immigrants who are in danger of their lives, they are ‘greeted’ by torrents of abuse by members of public at the harbour when they come into Port. Even the Lifeboat crews are given abuse for simply saving their lives.
This is the ugly, cynical, deeply unchristian side of humanity. And we come across this sort of attitude in many differences of opinions, differences of culture, of race, of creed. Because we are human, nobody is far away from this kind of behaviour. We can be easily led, easily seduced, even, by the words and beliefs of others. But Jesus is asking us to cling, not to these awful conventions, but to the love which he freely gives. When we ask ourselves who is our neighbour, then who do we come up with? Of course, we all have our Nearest and Dearest. But who do we extend the love of God to? Do we extend his love to the man across the street whom no one likes, whom Society tells us to not be in contact with? Or do we look the other way, and pretend that that person doesn’t really need the love of God?
As we go about our own business this next week, let us ponder on who our neighbour is is. Who is God asking us to bring his love to? And if we the courage to cross that street and tend to the person whom everyone else rebuffs?
The Lord be with you.
And with your spirit
A reading from the Gospel according to Luke 10: 25-37
Glory to you, O Lord
There was a lawyer who, to disconcert Jesus, stood up and said to him,
‘Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?‘
He said to him,
‘What is written in the Law? What do you read there?’
‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,
and your neighbour as yourself’.
‘You have answered right,’ said Jesus ‘do this and life is yours.’
But the man was anxious to justify himself and said to Jesus,
‘And who is my neighbour?‘
‘A man was once on his way down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of brigands; they took all he had, beat him and then made off, leaving him half dead. Now a priest happened to be travelling down the same road, but when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. In the same way a Levite who came to the place saw him, and passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan traveller who came upon him was moved with compassion when he saw him. He went up and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. He then lifted him on to his own mount, carried him to the inn and looked after him. Next day, he took out two denarii and handed them to the innkeeper. “Look after him,” he said “and on my way back I will make good any extra expense you have.” Which of these three, do you think, proved himself a neighbour to the man who fell into the brigands` hands?’
‘The one who took pity on him’ he replied.
Jesus said to him, ‘Go, and do the same yourself.’
The Gospel of the Lord
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ