St Michael and All Angels

Observatory, Cape Town

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Trinity XIII : Fr Tony Hogg

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 Preaching a sermon on the Good Samaritan creates problems for a 
preacher -it has even been referred to as "The Preacher's 
nightmare"! Why?
Possibly of over-familiarity -when a story is as familiar as this one, 
there is a real tendency to assume the listeners know what it means, 
and therefore what the preacher is going to say. So while it is true 
to say that this is one of the best known and best-loved of the 
parables, it is certainly NOT true to say that it is one of the best 
understood. 
Perhaps a different starting point today is with the word 'need'. Charity does 
indeed begin at home, but it must not end there. Why? Because the 
people at home are not always in need, and nearby need is what 
makes someone not in our home our neighbour.
In the New Testament way of thinking, a man is presented as a 
neighbour by his need, and he is accepted as his neighbour by those 
who do something about it. In the Gospel for today the two leaders 
who figure in the drama we call 'the good Samaritan' certainly do 
not live close to one another. One came from Samaria, and the other 
probably from Judaea, miles apart. But more than miles apart when 
it came to race or religion , but as we know in the parable 
they were made neighbours by the predicament into which one fell, 
and from which the other helped him. What happened, of course, is 
that the Samaritan traveller did not see the robbed traveller as a 
Jew, he simply saw him as a man. Remember Jesus made his story 
begin, 'A certain man.'
An aspect of the parable is that when it comes to people in trouble, 
we are to forget about all classifying labels. This man is in the six-
figure-income bracket. That woman was the guilty one in a nasty 
divorce case. But we are to see people as human beings; we are to 
go out of our way to treat people simply as men or women.
Whatever and where ever a person's circumstances human need is 
the pathway to neighbourliness.As long as there is human need, there 
need not be loneliness. Only in a society where everybody's wants 
were supplied, would neighbourliness be really difficult to achieve.
So the question is still there - but who is the good Samaritan? It 
could be you. It could be me. We pray such will be the case. BUT the 
great 'good Samaritan is Christ. He comes to you from another 
country and sees your need. He does not turn you down, nor pass 
you by, beacuse you haven't always lived up to what you know to be 
right. His only concern is that you need assistance for living. That is 
the deepest lesson of all to learn. When the world was 'down', God 
did not pass it by. When you are down, and I am down, Christ will 
not retreat to the other side. When you receive into your hands the 
sacramental Christ, you are renewing, you are allowing him to come 
to your side, one who really cares for you, simply because you are a 
human being with many deep and secret needs. It was wise for the 
wounded traveller on the Jerusalem to Jericho road to succour him. 
Have you ever noticed how when we are confronted with our real 
need we often act in denial. We are often like the man who was 
worried by the newspaper articles showing the relationship between 
smoking and lung cancer. He became so upset with the articleas that 
he knew he had to do something about it, He cancelled his 
subscription to the newspaper.
No denial stares at us from the Cross and supplies our need because 
love has and always will conquer, With Christ as our Good Samaritan  
We know he sees our need and gives us the strength to see the need 
of others too.
You will be wise then to welcome the Christ who comes to succour 
you and all who need his care today and in the week ahead.
Amen
 
 

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