This week I was reading Matthew Chapter 15 and there are a few verses in there which really made me think. They are the ones when a woman who would not have been considered Jewish asks for healing for her daughter and is initially denied but she does not give up and asks just for a little help (the crumbs from the master's table) and then is richly rewarded with the healing of her daughter.
I was really struck by the fact that so often we are only willing to help people like ourselves. We don't mind helping out a friend as they will often help us in return, but someone we do not know or perhaps are not very keen on ? Well, those people we often try to avoid and certainly would not go out of our way to help. But perhaps we should ? Perhaps helping 'the hard to help' is exactly what is meant by loving our neighbour rather than ourselves.
Lent starts this week after all the fun of Chinese New Year on Monday and Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day on Tuesday. As a family we often try and cut down on our spending to give more generously during this time or try to work on a personal bad habit. I often try to take up something extra, such as reading a chapter of a spiritual book (I often re-read the Purpose Driven Life as it has very convenient chapters for Lent !) or practising something I know I need to work on. But perhaps this year we will all work on recognising those around us who need our help but whom we would never normally recognise. Who is standing outside the church waiting for an invitation to go on in ? Which Mum at the bus stop could do with some help to get her buggy on the bus ? Which homeless person might appreciate a meal ? I'm going to watch out for them, will you too ?