Tag Archives: Love your neighbor

Loving neighbours: hope, faith, love


Colossians 1.1–14
Luke 10.25–37


This was in the news just over a week ago:

Good Samaritan stabbed in laneway

July 6, 2013

Police are hunting for a man who attacked a good Samaritan in a Brisbane laneway on Friday night.

The man suffered wounds to his neck, back and hand after he attempted to stop another man from stealing a handbag in the suburb of Milton.

The reporter didn’t have to explain what a ‘Good Samaritan’ is; everyone knows that!

Don’t they?

I wonder if everyone who reads such stories realises that the Good Samaritan is a character in one of Jesus’ parables. I doubt it, really.

But we know all about the Good Samaritan, don’t we? Well, maybe we do, but a little recap never hurts.

A teacher of the law asks Jesus a question. He reckons Jesus won’t have a good answer.

Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?

That’s the same question the ‘Rich Young Ruler’ asks him. Jesus points both men to the Law of Moses. This time he asks,

What is written in the law? What do you read there?

The expert in the law gives the right answer!

You shall 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 your neighbour as yourself.

So Jesus says,

Do this, and you will live.

End of conversation. Not.

Jesus has put the teacher of the law in an uncomfortable position. He has answered his own question. He knows what is right in his head, but he also knows he doesn’t put it into practice. There are ‘certain’ types of people he doesn’t treat as neighbours. So he looks for some wriggle room, some way of getting off the hook. So he asks yet another question:

And who is my neighbour?

Jesus doesn’t answer that question either. Instead, he tells him how to be a neighbour—and who can be a neighbour. And what’s more, Jesus complicates the lawyer’s life no end. Continue reading

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Love is the key: 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A, 23 October 2011)

Love is the key

1 Thessalonians 2.1-8
Matthew 22.34-46

We meet Jesus again today, still a ‘person of interest’ to the authorities, and in the last week of his life. And still being asked questions. Remember last week we read that he was asked about paying taxes to Caesar—it was a trick question designed to get him offside with either the Jewish people or the Roman oppressors. He cleverly escaped.

Today it looks like a harmless question.

Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?

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Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A, 20 February 2011)

Blessed are…the enemy-lovers

Leviticus 19.1-2, 9-18
Matthew 5.38-48

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Remember our theme in this sermon series? It’s this: the Sermon on the Mount is addressed to people who ‘get it’. They are the people of the Beatitudes: the poor in spirit; the mourners; the meek; those who hunger and thirst for righteousness; the merciful; the pure in heart; the peacemakers; the persecuted.

The persecuted. Many people are being persecuted today, for their faith, for political reasons, for their sexuality. Christians are leaving Middle Eastern countries today because it’s just so difficult to live there; there are places in which Christians don’t have full civil rights. We really aren’t persecuted for their faith here in Australia; none of us is liable to personal harm or even lack of professional advancement purely because we belong to a church.

‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake’. This is surely the hardest beatitude. How can people who are persecuted be ‘blessed’ in any way, shape or form? What sense could it make to say that?

Let’s look at how those who were being persecuted for their faith might have responded to what Jesus is saying here.

We need to remember again that Jesus lived in a different time and place to us. His culture was based on ‘honour’ and ‘shame’. A person with honour could hold his head up anywhere, and be highly regarded. A person without honour felt a sense of shame, and could not command any respect at all. Think of the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. The Pharisee prays with a sense of honour:

God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax-collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.

The tax-collector takes the place of the shameful: he stands far off, beats his breast and says,

God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”

If we look at those who are persecuted in such a society, we see they know what shame is; they have no honour. The people who persecute them have honour; but they have none in their eyes.

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