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May 12, 2014 · 17:17

Neighbours

“How shall I love thee? Let me count the ways”. This first line of the famous love poem causes us to reflect on the many ways that Jesus loved us during his lifetime. The night before He died He gave His disciples a new commandment to “love one another as I have loved you”.

His answer to the man’s question about who is the neighbour that he was supposed to love tells us a lot about how to love the way Jesus loved us. The victim of robbery and violence in today’s Gospel represents humankind brutalised by sin. Jesus is the Good Samaritan who takes pity on all of us and comes to our aid, heals us and restores us to life.

The Jewish priest and levite (deacon) in the story did not want to go near the poor man who had been attacked because they thought that he might be dead, and contact with a dead body might have made them ritually impure according to the Mosaic law. The law of Moses kept them from keeping the law of love!

Or, it’s been suggested that perhaps they were in too much of a hurry to get involved

Nearly 40 years a study was conducted at Princeton   University, USA, designed to work out the conditions under which good people would act for good, or at least be helpful.

Two psychologists asked a group of theology students to walk to another building on campus to give a short speech, either about their motives for studying theology or about the biblical parable of the Good Samaritan.

Meanwhile, the psychologists had arranged for an actor to be stationed on the path between the two buildings, slumped over, coughing and obviously in bad shape. The two experimenters had also led half the students to believe they were late for their speaking appointment, and half that they had ample time.

So, what do you think the responses were? Who was most likely to help: those with the story of the Good Samaritan uppermost in their mind or those thinking about the motives for studying theology?

There was a significance difference between groups, but it was not along the lines of speech content. Contrary to what we might expect, the content of the speech made no difference.

About the same number of Good Samaritan speakers and theology motivation students stopped. What did mid make a difference was how rushed the students thought themselves to be. Only 10 percent of those led to believe they were running late stopped to help. Of those told that they had plenty of time, 60 percent stopped to help.

Jesus had time for everyone.  He never appears to be inconvenienced.  He never kept his distance.

The word “neighbour” comes from the old English root “nigh” which means someone near or close to us. Jesus, in His great compassion, “drew near” to us in the Incarnation.

He was constantly being drawn to people in need, especially to outcasts of society such as lepers, tax collectors and prostitutes. He had a special compassion for women and for the poor. His love was proactive and spontaneous. He anticipated people’s needs and reached out to them before they had to ask. His multiplication of the loaves is one example of that.

Our neighbour is anyone in need, and Jesus speaks those words to us that He spoke to the expert in the law: “Go and do the same”.

One person who did follow His command to love was Mother Teresa. She had been a teacher occupied with her classes until one day, while walking down the street in Calcutta, she came upon a woman who was half-dead. Moved with compassion, she stayed with the woman until she died.

That experience began her lifetime of service to poor and terminally ill people. The number of members in the community of servants that she founded is now in the thousands, serving in hundreds of countries throughout the world.

Pope John Paul said of her, “The world has need of saints and witnesses, models worthy of being imitated. Suffice it to remember Mother Teresa of Calcutta, image of the Good Samaritan, who became for all, believers and non-believers, a messenger of love and peace.”

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_Good_Samaritan

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