This is a passage about ‘doing’ if ever there was one, the ultimate example for the activist; real hands on praxis, getting your hands dirty.
‘What do I need to do?’ (25) ‘Do this…’ (28) ‘Go and do likewise.’ (37) This is important to remember when we read on into the next passages in Luke on Mary and Martha and on prayer.
The crux of the story is for me in Jesus’s question in verse 36. I would translate the Greek gegonenai with ‘to have become’ rather than just ‘was’. “Which of these three, does it seem to you has become a neighbour to…?” Being a neighbour and having neighbours is not something that is static and given; it is a mutual process of becoming.
Unexpected people become neighbours because they choose to show ‘mercy’ or ‘compassion’. The unexpected twist Jesus gives to the question ‘who is my neighbour’ by telling a story of somebody who needs a neighbour rather than a story of somebody who is a neighbour emphasises mutuality.
The story invites us to think of all those who we do not think of as our neighbours and notice the mercy and compassion they offer. In loving our neighbour we learn to receive from them. Who in your life moves you with pity (33) and can you receive ‘mercy’ from them?
10 July 2016
This weekly blog on one of the lectionary readings is by Anne Claar Thomasson-Rosingh, Programme Leader for Lifelong Learning at Sarum College.