Ser­mon

The Press and Journal (Moray) - - FEATURES -

I’ve al­ways re­spected Kate Adie and re­mem­ber her when she was a war cor­re­spon­dent dur­ing the Balkan and Kosovo con­flicts. In her au­to­bi­og­ra­phy she tells of an en­counter with some vil­lage folk, stand­ing in bombed and burned out vil­lage ru­ins. They were watch­ing an iron plate laid over a small fire. Their eyes were riv­eted on the plate, on which siz­zled a tiny heap of chopped up potato; then an egg was bro­ken on to the feast. She was moved by the hunger and an­tic­i­pa­tion of the on­look­ers, clearly see­ing their first meal in days. Then she writes, “The mix­ture was deftly di­vided in two by the woman, us­ing a bit of card­board, slid­ing the yel­lowy lumps on to it. With a ges­ture born of nat­u­ral habit she turned and of­fered it to us. We were stunned with em­bar­rass­ment that kind­ness to strangers ex­tends this far.”

I’ve never for­got­ten that phrase, kind­ness to strangers. Hos­pi­tal­ity is a deeply hu­man, gen­tly hu­mane, and pro­foundly hu­man­is­ing ges­ture. The of­fer of wel­come, the in­vi­ta­tion to trust, the shar­ing of food, are each a recog­ni­tion of the worth and gift that is the neigh­bour. The Good Sa­mar­i­tan para­ble is a story meant to trans­form the way we see and treat other peo­ple, es­pe­cially the vul­ner­a­ble stranger.

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