Who is my Neighbour?

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One day when I was a little boy playing with my toys in our living room my Dad called to me and pointed out of the window at two strange, bearded and rather ferocious looking men walking along the pavement with big packs on their backs. I was rather frightened by them for they seemed almost like the bandits I had read about in adventure books. The next moment I was alarmed to hear my father opening the front door and then he ushered these two strange men into the room. I did not know what to do. I just froze. Then these strangers began to speak in English telling me they were from India and they were friends of the English and had come to sell the beautiful rugs and carpets they had with them. They unrolled their wares and they were indeed beautiful. My father was rather embarrassed by my enthusiasm but broke the ice by offering the two pedlars some tea whilst they recounted stories of India.

But this was just a part of my parents’ attempts to get me used to strangers which was in direct contrast to the general attitude of the times.

In Mark 12:28-34, a scribe asks our Lord which is the first commandment and Jesus replies:

Hear, O Israel: the Lord thy God is one God. And thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and with thy whole strength. This is the first commandment. And the second is like to it: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is no other commandment greater than these.

So there is nothing held back. The scribe added,

“that he should be loved with the whole heart, and with the whole understanding, and with the whole soul, and with the whole strength; and to love one’s neighbour as one’s self, is a greater thing than all holocausts and sacrifices.”

He emphasises the Catholicity of this rousing call and underlines the message of the parable of the ‘Good Samaritan” who was also an outsider and held nothing back in his charity.  DBP

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