Who is my neighbour?
In the Gospel (Luke 10:25-37) for this Sunday’s Mass, Our Lord approved of the reply which the lawyer made to his own question about how salvation is to be achieved; “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”. The answer is very clear, except for one word; ‘neighbour’. Who is my neighbour? Only St Luke’s account continues with the question about the identification of one’s neighbour.
Jesus teaches in the exquisite parable of the Samaritan that neither nationality nor religion nor race can set a limit to our responsibility of coming to the aid of another human being. To grasp better Jesus’ teachings, one needs to be aware that there is irreconcilable hostility, as mutual as it was deep, that marked the relationship, between Samaritans and Jews. Through the parable, Jesus is teaching is that the duty to help someone in need is not limited by personal feeling or inclination. The Samaritan showed by his action that he correctly recognised ‘a neighbour’ even in the hated Jew. Human fraternity imposes duties that extend beyond the realm of friends, colleagues and acquaintances. While sometimes it is easier said than put into practice, it is still nevertheless the very essence of being human itself to help another human in need. How do we respond to the current refugee crisis if it happening in our own country if our own livelihood may appear to be compromised? After asking that, we should also ask: what if we were the refugees……?!
After Jesus drew the right answer from the lawyer on who was the ‘neighbour’, the lawyer implicitly and perhaps grudgingly, admitted it was the Samaritan ( “….the one who showed pity”) He then urged the lawyer to imitate in his own life what he had recognised as a truly neighbourly act;
“Go, and do the same yourself’
We cannot love and worship God without paying attention to the neighbour who are in need.
In Christ, Fr Michael