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HOW TO BE A GOOD NEIGHBOUR

Father Francis's picture
Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Gal. 1:6-12 & Lk. 10:25-37

St. Paul's message in the first reading is that there can only be one Good News. There is only one version of the truth, the version which was revealed to him by Jesus and which he faithfully hands on to his converts. Paul was so convinced of the authenticity of Jesus' teaching that not even an angel from heaven would have persuaded him to accept a different interpretation. He urges his readers to keep strictly to the truth they have been taught.

Jesus took much of His teachings from His Jewish heritage. He gave new meaning to the word 'neighbour' which, for the Jew of His time, was understood to mean their fellow kinsman and countrymen. The neighbour was the person who shared their values and their faith. But Jesus changed all that.

In this simple parable in today's Gospel He extended the definition of neighbour to be every human being in need, regardless of their skin colour, ethnic background, political party or religious belief. We are obliged to treat every human being as our neighbour.

But what does it mean to be a 'neighbour' to everyone we meet? Being a neighbour means more than chatting over the fence to the person next door, sharing a cup of coffee in the morning with an elderly relation or taking our turn at driving local children to school. These gestures are marks of a good neighbour and ought to be done. But Jesus pushed the obligations of neighbourliness much further than conventional friendliness.

Being a neighbour means rescuing people who are in trouble. We usually steer clear of them for fear of 'getting involved' or 'getting hurt' but Jesus tells us to give to others without any strings attached. We usually are careful to give to people whom we love and who we know will repay our good turns. But according to Jesus neighbours meet the needs of friends and strangers alike.

Lord Jesus, You were a Good Samaritan to us, coming to our need when we were desperate and could not help ourselves. Let us be like You and follow Your example in our daily lives.

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