Who Is My Neighbour?

by Fr Nino Vinciguerra

I don’t have much contact with my neighbours. The family on my right in fact live in Indonesia and only come to Perth a few times a year, and so our chats are infrequent. The young family on my left have a very young child, their first, and she keeps them busy! Up until now our contact has largely been a friendly wave if we both arrive home from shopping.

However, recently I could smell Tom (not his real name) smoking in his back yard. I grabbed a box, stood on it and put my head over the high brick fence. I asked how they were coping with the COVID enforced isolation. I was planning to get to the shops the next morning as soon as they opened and wondered if I could buy anything for them as well. Bearing in mind there had been a panic buy on a lot of baby/toddler items. As it turned out they were stocked up, but really appreciated the ensuing chat.

It reminded me that being a good neighbour, can sometimes mean making large sacrifices, doing the inspirational, however most of the time it involves very simple gestures. It’s making important, the everyday things of life.

“And who is my neighbour?” (Lk.10.25), is answered by the parable of the Good Samaritan. While the generosity of the Samaritan is inspirational, it is not so much WHAT the Samaritan does that Jesus wants to highlight, but rather the fact he is a Samaritan, and is helping a Jew.

Jesus challenges all of us to look beyond the ‘walls’ we so easily create with each other.

Walls even within families, let alone work colleagues and our next-door neighbours. The truth Jesus teaches us is that we need to build bridges not walls.  We need to pray for Grace, the willingness and courage to make the effort and for the wisdom to see the opportunities God sends our way.

“Our Lord does not so much look at the greatness of our actions, or even at their difficulty, as at the love with which we do them.”  St. Therese of Lisieux

How can we overcome the physical barriers of our times to touch our neighbour?