Viewpoint from Father Adrian Ling 3/7/09
Fr Adrian Ling is Rector of Hemsby, Winterton, Somerton and Horsey
Who is ‘the Good Samaritan’? Most people are familiar with the Parable of the Good Samaritan, told in
Luke 10, how a man was attacked on the road by robbers and left for dead, and was helped by a stranger, a foreigner from Samaria, who went beyond the call of duty, lodging the wounded man in an inn and promising to return later to pay later the innkeeper whatever expenses he incurred. The term ‘good Samaritan’ is now used to describe anyone who helps a stranger. However to those who heard it, the story would have been deeply shocking and offensive. In those days the people of Samaria and Israel did not mix and the Jewish people regarded the Samaritans as dirty foreign outcasts. Jesus told the parable in response to the question, ‘who is my neighbour?’, after he had reminded his hearers that the commandments to lo
ve God above all things and to love your neighbour as yourself were the most important. When Jesus asked who had acted as the good neighbour to this man, his Jewish questioner was forced to reply that it was the foreigner, the Samaritan; the words must have stuck in his throat. So Jesus reminded the people that everyone is to be treated as a neighbour, nobody should be written off as though they did not count.
Recently I was told by a billboard as I drove down the M11 in Essex that Britain is a Christian country. The billboard was encouraging people to vote for the British National Party. ‘What would Jesus Christ do?’ was the question on another. ‘Vote BNP’ was the unlikely answer it gave. How they arrived at that conclusion I do not know, I would not presume to know that Jesus would vote for any party. What I do know is that Jesus Christ calls upon us
to live by God’s commandment to treat every body as we wish to be treated ourselves. Although it is not right that anybody coming to live in our country from abroad should abuse our hospitality, it is the Christian obligation to care for all, especially the stranger. If we want Britain to really be a Christian country we must practise what Christ preached.
The Christian message cannot be twisted and abused to suit narrow political ends that betray the gospel. I wonder if those who remind us that Britain is a Christian country would agree with Jesus that we have a duty of care towards all people in this country and not just the people we like.
It was a foreigner who cared for the man in need of assistance, ‘go and do likewise’ Jesus says to us.