Last Sunday, congregations in any churches following the common lectionary will have heard the story of the Good Samaritan, prompted by Jesus being asked “… and who is my neighbour?” He deliberately chose to use the example of an immediately neighbouring community – the Samaritans – but one with whom the Jews were not exactly on friendly terms, to say the least.
The Jewish victim in the story could reasonably have expected help from his fellow countrymen, who both ‘passed by on the other side’, whereas it was the alien, the Samaritan who actually helped him, at his own expense and his own risk. I don’t think the Samaritan saw a foreigner, or an immigrant, or a terrorist threat, or a potential economic drain. Did he worry about the victim’s race, colour, or creed? Did he worry that when the victim recovered he would continue to be a burden on Samaritan resources? Did he wonder whether the victim was in fact wealthy and might be able to offer something in return?
Of course, we shall never know what the Samaritan actually asked himself, but we know exactly what he did – and that says it all. He saw simply another human being in need of help, and he came to his aid in whatever way he could.
Whatever you think of Brexit, whatever your views on immigration, whatever you feel about the refugee crisis, we all need good neighbours – and it starts with us being good neighbours ourselves.
By the Revd Canon David Smith, Team Rector, North Cheltenham Team Ministry