Jesus rubs up everyone in today’s gospel. First he angers the Jewish establishment by telling a story about a man who was mugged, ignored by two clergymen and helped by a member of the hated ethnic minority.
Then he shuts the legal boffins up by saying that you don’t need a degree in jurisprudence to understand God’s Law. Just a bit of common sense will do. You can know the Law but still be incapable of love.
In fact, that’s what God said through Moses in today’s reading from Deuteronomy: “This Law is not beyond your strength or beyond your reach… it is very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart.”
Yet we have problems thinking that God’s Law should be so easy. Coming from a superhero culture we tend to expect some great heroic sacrifice will be asked of us, some death-defying feat that will hit the front pages of the newspapers. But God simply says: look around and make sure your neighbour is OK. Christian morality is as simple as that. Love your neighbour.
Today’s Samaritans are not those who go off to save the Third World but those who keep an eye out for the elderly or sick person on their street. They’re the kitchen sink heroes whose daily acts of kindness show that everyone is their neighbour. We shouldn’t need to ask, “Who is my neighbour?” Rather, we should listen for the call within us to become close to those in need around us.
St David said, “Do the little things well”. Perhaps that’s what God is trying to tell us today. For if we want to fulfil God’s Law, then we will do so by opening our eyes and ears and responding to people of all races and creeds when they need us.
This is not something so difficult that only professionals can grasp it. It’s obvious, says God. It’s what we would want others to do for us, and we can do it for others simply by doing the little things well