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Homily 15th Sunday of ordinary Time (Sea Sunday)

Updated: Jul 12, 2022

Who is my Neighbour?

Question asked by the Lawyer in the Gospel today.

Question each one of us could ask every day. Who is my Neighbour?


by Rev Deacon Michael Kennedy

Homily 15th Sunday of ordinary Time (Sea Sunday)

Who is my Neighbour?

Question asked by the Lawyer in the Gospel today.

Question each one of us could ask every day. Who is my Neighbour?

When I was in pupil at Sacred Heart Primary School we had a music teacher called Mrs Bate. She is a bit of a legend among all of us who were at Sacred Heart School in the 1960/s, .1970’s 1980’s and the early 1990’s (yes she was there that long). She was always on the lookout for new music to teach us and I remember very vividly her teaching us this hymn

“When I needed a Neighbour were you there? Were you there? When I needed a neighbour were you there, and the creed and the colour, and the name won’t matter, were you there?

In the Gospel we have just listened to, Jesus gives an unlikely answer to the question who is my Neighbour. Because the person he puts forward as the Neighbour, is not the person his hearers were expecting to hear.

The person he puts forward is the Samaritan Man, the sworn enemies of the People of Israel, Did he know the person injured on the road? Probably not? Did he care that he was from another race, another creed? Certainly not. Did he think of him as a person to ignore? Well the story tells us that not only did he stop, he helped him, he carried him to the nearest inn and paid for his keep.

He was the neighbour.

He showed not the face of someone wrapped up their own self-importance, someone thinking about themselves and nobody else.

No by his actions, he showed concern, compassion and kindness.

It did not matter that he did not know him. It did not matter that he was a stranger to him.

At the moment all that was important was that he was a person in need.

And he was there to help.

Today the Gospel challenges all of us here. Who is my Neighbour?

And that does not mean the person we live next door to, the person we live below or on top of. Our neighbour is that person we walk past every morning on the way to work or school who is sitting in the doorway, it’s that person who annoys us in the work place, it’s that person in school who nobody talks too, it’s that person on the train or the bus who we try to avoid because they maybe loud or making a nuisance of themselves, it’s those people in our community who have come from another place as refugees and are “strangers on these shores”. It’s the person sitting in front or beside or even behind me in church today, whose name I do not know.

It’s my brothers and sisters all over the world who are struggling because of poverty, violence, unrest, these are my neighbours.

Today is Sea Sunday, a day on which we remember and pray for those who work at Sea.

They very often are “Strangers on the Shore”, they are away from home for months on end, and they often land in ports where they do not speak the language, where they know nobody, where they feel alone. The work they do is vital for our world, but yet they are so often treated with contempt, with little respect, nobody shows them the face of love.

We may not think this concerns us, after all London Docks are no longer the magnet and haven of the Shipping industry that they use to be, nowadays the docklands and the wharfs that once were the beating heart of London are now turned into overpriced, luxury apartments for the mega rich. And yet we have a chronic housing shortage, our neighbours need places to live, and sadly these parts of London have been changed for Profit rather than for people.

But it is to working ports that that Stella Maris port chaplains and volunteer ship visitors go, to visit these Strangers, these men and women who work tirelessly in cramp hazardous conditions, and bring them comfort, words of encouragement, words of Hope, a sign that People care.

Like the Samaritan in the Gospel they are concerned for the welfare of those they meet.

A few years ago the Bishops of England and Wales issued a document called “Meeting God in Friend and Stranger”. All of us hear this morning share that belief that we are made in the Image and likeness of God, and so every person has that dignity, that right to be welcome, respected, helped in times of crisis, loved.

Today we come together as a community, as a Parish Family, as the Body of Christ here in this place.

These past two and a half years have seen all of us affected in some ways by the Pandemic. At the height of the two lockdowns, one very tangible example of the us reaching out to others, to our neighbours was the work of the Coronavirus Angels here in Battersea. For some it was shopping and visiting, for others it was simply been on the end of a telephone speaking to another person, for that person maybe the only contact they had with a human being that day.

It’s a shame that it took a Pandemic to galvanise us all into action. And yet so much good came from that group. It would be a pity of that imitative were to archived in the journals of history of this parish family- rather what better way to Answer the Lord’s Call, Who is my Neighbour, than to keep that momentum going, to establish again little groups that looked out for others, to support the work of organisations such as the SVP in caring for our Neighbours.

Maybe this is something that we could all think about over these next few weeks and months, how do we reach out, connect, and support one another? How do we show our care and concerns for each other? How do we get to know each other and be there for each other?

How do we go from you, Yes Glorying the Lord by our Lives, nourished by the word of God and fed by the Eucharist, how do we show the face of God and make his name known, by our words and our deeds to our Neighbour.

How do we meet God, in friend and stranger?

As we pray today for the work of Stella Maris, let’s also commit our parish family to strive to be those Good Samaritans here in this place, and in this time.

When I needed a Neighbour, were you there?

The last verse of that Hymn is the Lord Jesus speaking- encouraging us and assuring us. He says these words to you and to me today and always.

Wherever you travel, I'll be there, I'll be there. Wherever you travel, I'll be there. And the creed and the colour and the name won't matter, I'll be there.

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