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By Rev. Joan Kessler

Luke 10: 25-37

Today’s short reflection on the parable of the Good Samaritan or the Good Neighbour as I have been calling it lately was more difficult to put together than I anticipated. It is so familiar. What if anything new can be said of it?

It is easy to tell the parable of the Good Samaritan, because we can read it so literally, we think it makes perfect sense and it leaves us feeling good. Be kind. Be compassionate. Be generous to another in need. It is a beautiful example to follow and it is a model held up as moral and desired standard that underpins not only Christianity, but other traditions and secular movements as well. But in Jesus’ parables, there is always a challenge. Jesus never makes the point easy or self-evident. The parable is always reflected back to the person Jesus is telling it to and to determine the answer to their good question for themselves.

There is nothing wrong with reading the Good Samaritan parable as a go and do likewise story. But where is the challenge in this moment? What is it this story is trying to afflict upon us? Asking the question “Who is my neighbour?” is not a particularly arduous task. We consider the answer by our geographical location. Our neighbourhoods are defined by a local proximity, and we could probably say a few words about who lives within its boundaries. But Jesus in this parable expands the definition of neighbour in a way I had not noticed before. In the version we heard Louise read moments ago, Jesus turns back the question o