This was the question a good Jewish lawyer asked Jesus. He already knew the great commandment to love God and neighbour.
His question resounds today: well, who is my neighbour? It’s a question that continues to challenge the Sisters of the Good Samaritan.
Each country has a history of exclusion. In Jesus’ time the Jews excluded Samaritans as heretics and traitors. So Jesus’ story of a compassionate Samaritan helping a wounded Jew was unexpected, even shocking.
Jesus said that our neighbours were not only the people who live near us, who look like us and who think like us. No, even a worst enemy was to be considered a neighbour.
For Jesus, our neighbour is everyone – without exception – no matter whatever their race, colour, belief or lack of belief.
They are the people who are given to us and to whom we’re given – the people next door or in the same city, the people in the same family or on the same planet.
In naming the congregation as Sisters of the Good Samaritan back in the 1850s, Archbishop John Bede Polding said that the name “sufficiently indicates the scope” of their work. “Do we not feel a call to become the ministers of Christ’s mercy, the messengers of Christ’s compassion?” Archbishop Polding asked.
The Good Samaritans were simply to be compassionate neighbours to the person in need.
Our neighbour in need might be a destitute boy from a squatter village in the Philippines, a prisoner in Melbourne, a young woman searching for God.
As Sisters of the Good Samaritan we make a particular commitment to be neighbour to: