Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle C

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time


 Luke 10:25-37

“And who is my neighbour?”

The man in Luke’s story had just recited the law – “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself”. But he then went on, in order to justify himself, to ask “And who is my neighbour?” It was not an idle question, for the word can refer to relatives, members of the wider family circle, or to friends, or to others living in the surrounding neighbourhood. Let’s be clear, he is saying, do I have to love them all, or is it enough to love those who are closest?

In reply Jesus told the story of the man beaten up and left for dead by the road. Two professionally religious men walked by on the other side of the road, fearful of incurring ritual defilement. But a detested Samaritan “was moved with compassion” by what he saw. Here is a totally new approach towards an appreciation of what it is to be a neighbour. The Samaritan became a true neighbour when his compassion moved him to approach the victim. In other words, Christian neighbourliness does not refer to where or with whom one lives; it is to do with the way one acts.

The Samaritan imitates the approach of Jesus himself. He was always alert to people’s needs, sensitive to their pain, responsive to their hurt, attentive to their cry for help. That is why he was described on many occasions as being “moved with compassion” as he was drawn to bring help, comfort, healing and forgiveness to people in need. When Jesus asked who proved to be the true neighbour to the injured man, the lawyer answered “the one who took pity on him”. And Jesus said to him: “Go, and do the same yourself”. Active compassion is his word to us today.