Reflection Sunday 10 July
Readings: Luke 10:25-37
In today’s Gospel someone who wants everything in black and white (sound familiar?), asks Jesus to clarify things for him. He concludes by asking ‘who is my neighbour?’. In the first century, there were expectations to care for one’s neighbour. Legalism is still alive and well, as we know. I’ll do the right thing – so long as it’s not ‘too much’ – I don’t want to put myself out. In today’s language: ‘Who am I supposed to care about?’.
Jesus’ reply, the parable of the Good Samaritan, is still powerful reading but may need a little ‘translating’ for us to understand its full power. Immersed in Jewish society as Jesus was, a Samaritan was the ‘nemesis’ of the Jew. This enmity went back hundreds of years. I’m not sure that we have an equivalent – a sporting analogy would be banal. But imagine someone you hated treating people in a way that ‘your own’ do not.
Jesus turned the world on its head, then and now. It’s not about who is ‘in’ or ‘out’, acceptable or not. To emphasise that point, those that did not take care of the person who had been attacked were the very ones expected to. What mattered was showing mercy – a quality that belongs to God – which was demonstrated by the ‘enemy’. First, this ‘enemy’ sees the need, does something about it and follows up. Surely this forces all who read this story to think about our classification of people, as well as our behaviour towards others, especially those in need.
Who am I supposed to care about? The answer is simple – every human being.
The challenge is as great today as it was for the Jewish listeners of Jesus.