We live in a small village. Before the advent of the Coronavirus and in this age of the internet and social media we were rarely in touch with our neighbours except to say, ‘Hello’. Many of them were working. We knew, in theory, that we could ask them for help but, thankfully, we had no reason to ask.
We are the oldies in our group of houses. I hadn’t realised this until now but our neighbours had. As soon as we were told we must stay at home we have got to know our neighbours so much better. They are falling over themselves in their eagerness to help us! We have no worries about whether we’ll have enough food. They ask us what we need every time they go shopping. We have all started to chat and share our news, keeping a safe distance away, of course! We can help our younger neighbours by accepting their help and by showing interest in their news and listening to their concerns.
I am reminded of the story Jesus told when he was asked “Who is my neighbour? (Luke 10:25:37)
The parable of the good Samaritan
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’
26 ‘What is written in the Law?’ he replied. ‘How do you read it?’
27 He answered, ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”; and, “Love your neighbour as yourself.”
(NOTE: The man who asked Jesus was a lawyer. As a Jew, he had been taught all about the Law that God gave to Moses many years before. Most of us know about the 10 Commandments in the Old Testament (Exodus 20:1-17)This man had realised that they could be summarised in 2 commands, 1. to love God with all our being and 2. To love our neighbour as much as we love ourselves.)
But, he asks, “Who is my neighbour?”. So Jesus tells the parable. The meaning is very clear. We must all be willing to help anyone, no matter who they are. ‘You have answered correctly,’ Jesus replied. ‘Do this and you will live.’
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’
30 In reply Jesus said: ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half-dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. “Look after him,” he said, “and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.”
36 ‘Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’
37 The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’
Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise’
(NOTE: To understand this parable it is important to know that the Jews and the Samaritans had nothing in common and nothing to do with each other. Jesus was teaching the lawyer and all who were listening that they should help anyone in need. We must also learn the lesson of compassion. If we see anyone in need and distress our hearts should be moved to do as much as we can to help. We shouldn’t make distinctions because of race, belief or because we don’t like them. The Samaritan didn’t pass by on the other side. He attended to the man’s wounds and cared for him. He paid the innkeeper to look after him.)
The meaning is very clear. We must all be willing to help anyone, no matter who they are. It is a lesson for the times we live in. Jesus and his Father ask us to be kind and to help everyone when and wherever we can. If everyone followed this simple law our world would be a wonderful place. The Bible tells us that day will come. Jesus will return to set up his Father’s Kingdom on earth.