Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - Golden Rule
Few aspects of Christ's teaching have attracted lip service to the extent that the so called "Golden Rule" has. Few passages from the Scriptures are better remembered than those we read today, especially the Old Testament and the gospel reading. Yet, rarely has the world experienced such confrontation, division and hatred amongst people as it currently does.

Deuteronomy 30: 10-14 Represents a stage in Jewish thinking in which people were searching beyond written laws to "find laws engraved in the heart". This search would reach its full development in the parables of Jesus.

Colossians 1: 15-20 For the first time, Christ is identified with the tradition of wisdom which, until then, had always been identified only with the Supreme Being. This identification with Wisdom is taken even further to include the notion of Redemption

Luke 10: 25-37 The ultimate yard stick of this wisdom is to be found in the counsel of the Gospel - to love God and to love one's neighbour as oneself - giving us the Golden rule -"do unto others as you would have done unto yourself".

Point 1: I can recall the time when there was saying in vogue -"you wouldn't do it to an Afghan". Why the poor old Afghan was singled out , I suppose, was due to the fact that his occupation as a camel herder put him near the bottom of the social scale. What was being said, of course, was that there was a well defined limit of behaviour beyond which reasonable people did not transgress. Not so today! "Do it to anyone" provided it serves your advantage and makes your point. Events in the Middle East, where vicious guerilla tactics are increasingly countenanced and employed, are but the latest happenings to illustrate the extent to which people have regressed.

Point 2: It would seem that people have become polarized to such an extent that a stage has been reached where many need to hate, to have enemies to blame and to attack. The litany of examples ranges through from school bullies, road rage, queue jumping, domestic violence and criminal assault, at the local level to the horrific international conflicts. It would appear that evening the balance of past injustice can only be achieved by hatred. By hating strongly enough, forcefully enough, violently enough, then will justice be done.

Point 3: It was not by accident that the principal characters in today's parable were Jew and Samaritan. The degree of hatred between these two groups of people equaled anything with which we are familiar. The moral conclusion of the parable is that the obligations of neighborliness ought to extend to anyone in need, even enemies. There is another conclusion, however, to be drawn from this story and it is that through good deeds, enemies can become neighbours. In Christ's case, many of the early converts were Samaritans. And so it can be with us as we seek to give a Christian response to life's situations.

Conclusion: Conflict, unfortunately, is part and parcel of life; but something more than superior force is required to resolve it. At the heart of a Christian response lies reconciliation as expressed in the Golden rule -"do unto others as you would have done unto yourself". The story of the Good Samaritan was a decisive step forward in human religious thought, a step that has yet to be honored seriously in practice, however much it is praised in theory.

Scriptural reference: "You should not hate your brother in your heart; but you shall reason with your neighbour lest you bear sin because of him". ( Leviticus 19:17)