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How far?

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him..." Luke 15.20

All eyes on Qatar for this evening's World Cup match between Wales and England! When asked to explain the rivalry, England coach - Gareth Southgate - made a gesture with his hands to convey the close proximity in which the two countries are situated. It would appear that the closer you are, the greater the rivalry.

Contrast this with other items on the news: mud-slides in Italy, war in Ukraine, protesting on the streets in China. We watch with bemused disinterest because these events are happening far away; they don't affect us directly. Though we got a rude shock with the initial outbreak of Covid which came upon us quicker and harder than most expected, usually these events pass us by.

Yet, as we are learning with global warming - whatever its causes - ultimately we are all connected. What happens somewhere will eventually affect us here. The impact might be in the availability of goods, the changing climate, an influx of refugees... Everything matters, not just what we can see, touch and smell at close quarters.

Jesus goes to great lengths in his teaching and in his ministry to reach out beyond his immediate environment: welcoming strangers, healing foreigners, telling stories about outcasts. In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the father's heart fills with love long before he can embrace his returning son. Likewise we are urged to see in those far off people like ourselves, who deserve the same attention, respect and compassion we would offer our nearer neighbours.



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