A scholar in religious law hoped for an easier way to be right with God, and, when told we are to love our neighbour as ourselves, he asked who is my neighbour. Jesus answered with the story of the Good Samaritan. While this story has been preached on thousands of times with careful exposition from many angles, it has two simple points. Each of us chooses our answer to that question. Jesus did not draw any boundaries for who is a neighbour.
In the aftermath of the flood of 2013, we have interesting contrasts. At the time I am composing this, June 26, many things are happening. Many people are going out of their way to help people hurt by the floods. Work crews from Red Deer and Saskatoon are in Calgary with their pump trucks emptying out basements and other places of water.
The homeless people who stayed at the Drop-In Centre are temporarily at the old Quality Inn on McKnight and Edmonton Trail without kitchen facilities because their neighbours are intensely opposed to the Drop-In Centre using the Quality Inn for housing for working people who are too poor to afford other accommodation. The residents feel threatened by people they do not know, and have little desire to get to know.
Thieves are exploiting opportunities to break into and rob temporarily abandoned homes.
People who are not working are using this opportunity to go look at the places where flooding happened, slowing down people trying to get to work and medical appointments and people working on cleanup.
People are generously volunteering their time to do really dirty work, and donating large sums of money to the Red Cross, the United Church, and other agencies to help others.
There is an intense effort to make the Stampede grounds usable next week with people cheering this work and people criticizing the effort, wanting the resources to go towards homes and businesses.
Our diverse humanness is fully on display. Instructors at a seminary decided to try an experiment. They had a thorough presentation on the story of the Good Samaritan for a class of their students. After the presentation, the students needed to leave that building and go for lunch in another building. In between the two buildings, an actor playing the role of a person who had been beaten, robbed and left by the side of the walk was placed. Most of the students went out of their way to avoid getting close to this person. in spite of just finishing the session on this story. All of us are human.
My questions for this Sunday are as follows:
Why am I able to love my neighbour as myself when I do this?
Why am I not able to love my neighbour as myself when I don’t?
Over the course of the summer as we work, play, rest, shop, and travel, we will probably encounter several opportunities to show to ourselves that we do love our neighbour as we love ourselves. May the Spirit help us do so, affirming our status as God’s children.