Bansfield BeneficeDiocese of St Edmundbury & IpswichChurch of England Benefice Scenes Benefice Scenes Benefice Scenes Benefice Scenes

Church News Volume 5, Issue 8 (July 2004)

Dear friends,

The story of the Good Samaritan, when first told by Jesus, was a revolutionary idea. Even today this familiar story still challenges our ideas.

One night a famous British writer and broadcaster tells the tale of how she got out of her new car beside a busy main road in London. To her horror the car locked itself with her keys, phone and coat inside. Commuters rushed past, paying no heed to her waves for help. One battered car did stop. Inside were some rough looking young people. She asked if they might take her to a nearby phone box to call for help. Instead they insisted on taking her home to collect a spare key and then back to her stranded car. As she reflects, in age, lifestyle and outlook they were poles apart, yet in a crisis they identified with each other.

Jesus may have based his story of the Good Samaritan on a real event for the road from Jerusalem to Jericho was notorious for bandits. But the characters represented an extreme contrast. Samaritans were religiously and ethnically related to the Jews but accepted the first five books of the Bible only. They had once built a temple to rival that of the Jews at Jerusalem. Sometimes there had been open hostility. To the Jews the Samaritans were outsiders, traitors, heretics. They could not agree to disagree, nor live alongside each other. Many took to practising a kind of apartheid taking long detours in a journey just to avoid setting foot near one another's homes.

So the idea of a Samaritan being a good neighbour to a Jew, or a Jew to a Samaritan, horrified those to whom Jesus told the story.

All people are neighbours made in God's image. Before God all are equal - equal in dignity, and equal in sin. Colour, class, race and creed are for practical purposes irrelevant. There are no second class or inferior people, just people, like us.

The two great commandments summarising the Ten Commandments (love God and your neighbour as yourself) ruled that the wholehearted love for God was to be expressed by selfless and practical love for our neighbour. The two laws are completely inseparable. Break one and we break the other. God has given Himself for us, we must give ourselves for others.

We also like to choose who we help and who we ignore. Like those who passed by in the story we can look for excuses not to get involved. It is not comfortable teaching, but its not impossible either. We need only the will to obey and then God will give us the strength to act. As we love God with our whole heart, soul and strength, and our neighbours as ourselves, others may be drawn to Him too.

Who then is your neighbour?

The person next door, … in the next village, … the tramp you pass in the doorway in London, … the starving and diseased on the TV news, … the refugee, … the immigrants from eastern Europe …?

Rev'd Ian M. Finn

News Letter Archive.

Last Modified Friday 08 June 2012