You who dwell in the garden with friends in attendance,let me hear your voice.
Song of Songs 8:13
Over the week end marches have taken place in London and elsewhere in the UK in support of those in America under the banner Black Lives Matter. Now, this is not the place to get involved with the politics of the organisation but simply to take up the message of the group’s title, Black lives matter. Sadly, racial hatred and the incitement to racial hatred have been with us for a long, long time. More worryingly it shows no sign of diminishing. In my lifetime alone some 6 million or so people were murdered simply because they were Jewish yet still we do not seem to have learned the lesson. People are still being killed because of their race and people who should know better are still encouraging racial intolerance.
Racial hatred existed in Jesus’ time too, of course. In fact as Sunday’s gospel reading, (Luke 10:25-37), tells us Jesus uses that point to answer a question from a scholar of the law who asks Jesus “And who is my neighbour?” In response Jesus relates the parable of the Good Samaritan. You will remember that two good Jewish men, a priest and a Levite passed by on the other side of the road rather than help an injured fellow Jew. The one person who did stop to offer help was a Samaritan. Now over the years the Jews and Samaritans had become sworn enemies so one might have expected him to pass by too, but he did not. He “was moved with compassion”, and stopped to help. But he went further than that by putting him on his own animal and taking the injured man to a hostel for the night. He then stayed up to look after him and when he left the following day paid for his further care. Not what one would expect from a sworn enemy. Indeed he really went the extra mile for this man whom he did not know but for whom he felt compassion. When asked by Jesus which one of the three passersby was a neighbour of the injured man the scholar had to admit that it was the Samaritan. And what was Jesus’ response? “Go and do thou likewise.” So there you have it. No matter how difficult it is, how unpleasant the situations in which we find ourselves or how much we are put out we are called to love our neighbour, whatever his race or creed.
I was heartened to hear a young lady tell the Channel 4 TV news reporter at the rally that all lives matter whether black or white. She is right since we are all made in God’s image and are all His children. Her words give me hope for the future and I pray that that message will be received loud and clear around the world. It is time for us to put all this racial abuse, hatred and intolerance behind us and follow Jesus’ commandment to Love thy neighbour.
Peter is a father and a grandfather who has been retired from full time work for a number of years