And who is my neighbour?
Against the shootings in Dallas, the callous attacks in Bangladesh, the cowardly murders of the people praying in Bagdad, the continuing debates about refugees and asylum seekers in Europe and Australia, we may well ask “Just who is our neighbour?”
Some time ago, during a radio talk back session, a man rang in to inquire, “Where could I ring this Samaritan chap?” The parable still needs to be proclaimed.
Let us remember that we are still on the road to Jerusalem. We are still passing through Samaria. We, like Jesus, are meeting all types. Today, on behalf of the formal opposition, a spokesperson determined to take a rise out of Jesus and us. A deliberate set up!
Jesus upholds the long proclaimed teaching from Deuteronomy, the time honoured and often forgotten “Love God…Love your neighbour “, and he makes it abundantly clear. A new definition of neighbours and all done in Samaritan territory and with a Samaritan as the hero. The teaching must have stunned, and was not received kindly or with grace. Fancy that it is the hated enemy who is the hero with a human heart!
Over the centuries, we have had to be reminded of this teaching. Sometimes ordinary people have raised the bar, at other times it has been the great saints. In our time it was Cardijn for the young workers, Mother Teresa for the poor in India and elsewhere, John Vainer for the disadvantaged, Mary McKillop here at home for the children and Mary Glowery for women.
For us today, we take to heart the injunction in the First Reading: “No, the Word is very near to you, it is in your mouth and in your heart for your observance.”