The Story of the Assaulted Man or Who is My Neighbour?
Published by Anonymous on Sunday, 25 August 2019 15:29
Sunday 14th July Luke 10:25-37 Who is my neighbour?
This is a story you all know so well. Im sure you all heard it at Sunday School and in School Assemblies.
The story starts as an academic game with the expert in law asking Jesus the questions What must I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus reaffirms the two commandments – which I read out to us a few moments ago – Love God and your neighbour. The lawyer knew full well that the law demanded total devotion to God and love for one’s neighbour. But he still asks Who is my neighbour? thinking he would catch Jesus out. As you remember there was no love lost between the Jews and the Samaritans. Then Jesus tells this famous parable.
Recently I was at a clergy study day at Bolton Abbey and this passage was our topic for the day. But there instead of calling it the Good Samaritan – they called it the Parable of the Assaulted Man. And we were asked who we identified with from the story – the lawyer, the assaulted man, the robbers, the priest, the Levite, the Samaritan, or the innkeeper?
We had two speakers, one was Bishop Nick and the other was William Crawley who is a BBC Journalist for Radio 4 based in Belfast. And he spoke about Who is my neighbour from the point of view of his upbringing. He was born and lived in Belfast during the troubles, and was taught to believe that Catholics were scum and to be hated no matter what. He went on to tell us how most of his friends from school had been in jail more than once for beating and killing the Catholics in their city. And he was often asked why he seemed to be different.
He went on to tell us how at his school one day there was a lottery, when names of all the pupils in his year were put into a hat, and his name was drawn out. He had been selected to go to the USA for a few weeks to stay with a Catholic family over there. So he went home and told his Mum, thinking she would say No way. His parents talked a lot about it – could they entrust their child who was only 10-11 years old, to a family they have never met, across the ocean, who were Catholic?
Then they thought that he would never get this chance to go to the USA again – so they reluctantly allowed him to go.
He told us how he had seen in magazines pictures of Americans wearing checked suits and having brief cases, and he insisted his parents bought him a cream checked suit, with wide lapels, shirt and tie and a brief case and off they went with his suitcase to the airport. There they met up with some other children who had been similarly selected from other schools in Belfast. All the other children wore tshirts and jeans. But suit and all, off he went. He stayed with a lovely family who had a son the same age as him and they shared a bedroom. At night, the Father came up to their bedroom to tuck them both down, and William said that the Dad did something rather strange to his son, which he couldn’t hear and each night he strained to hear what he was saying. Eventually he asked the young lad – oh, my Dad always makes the sign of the cross on my forehead and asks God to bless me and keep me safe. And so, over the few weeks he was there, he came to realise that Catholics were normal people, they were God fearing people, they were loving and caring people – in fact he said that this couple were more loving and caring than his parents ever were with him. And he has stayed in touch with them since that visit. But the outcome of his trip was on his return, he always considered the Catholics to be his neighbours and so could not go and fight against them.
For someone brought up in Belfast during the troubles of the 70’s/80’s the question Who is my neighbour Is a really important and loaded question. And one he answered very different to most of his physical neighbours round about him.
In our discussions later in the day, we were asked to talk about Who was not my neighbour?
What about my neighbour who threatens my child?
What about my neighbour who comes into a crowded restaurant with a suicide belt on ready to blow us all up?
What about someone who doesn’t want to be our neighbour?
So here is a question for you all -
How does neighbourliness relate to our two parishes?
A good question for us to think and consider.
I asked you earlier who you identified with in the story. I wonder if we should look at their attitudes to the injured man. And if we replace the injured man, for refugee or asylum seeker, or for a gypsy who moves onto the edge of our village, or a Muslim person who buys a house in next to our village school, or ……..
Put into the following phrases someone who you know you would find difficult to be neighbourly to see how you fare:
to the expert in the law, he was a subject for discussion.
To the robbers he was someone who could be used and exploited.
To the religious men, he was a problem to be avoided
To the innkeeper, he was a customer to serve for a fee
To the Samaritan he was a human being worth being cared for and loved
To Jesus, all of them and all of us were worth dying for.