From The Rectory
This morning I was watching the children’s cartoon Octonauts with my daughter before school. The episode was all about a Sea Sponge that wasn’t feeling well. Peso the doctor, had the task to identify the problem and to help the Sea Sponge recover.
During the course of the cartoon one of the other characters called Shellington described the Sea Sponge and the creatures living in it, as ‘a great example of commensalism’.
Just as I was thinking ‘of what’ Peso came to my rescue and asked the same question.
Apparently commensalism is a relationship between two organisms where one receives benefits from the other whilst the other is neither benefited or harmed.
It struck me as I thought about this little sea sponge and all the creatures living in it, how she represented a good model of Christian love.
God calls his children, to love as he has loved them, unconditionally, without limits and at times undeservedly.
One of the most famous stories in the bible along this theme is the story of the Good Samaritan. In modern language Samaritan has become synonymous with those that do good. But as Jesus told the story of the Samaritan man travelling to Jericho stopping to help the Jew who had been beaten and robbed, the crowd would have been outraged!
The Jews despised the Samaritans. There is no way a Jew would have stopped to help the Samaritan, and they would not have expected the Samaritan to demonstrate any form of kindness to them.
Usually when we hear this passage preached on, it focuses on the teaching of ‘who is our neighbour?’ and how ‘we must love our neighbour as we love ourselves.’
But now I am aware of the word commensalism, I observe another aspect of the love that Jesus calls us to display revealed in this story. As the Samaritan stopped to help the Jewish man, it was a great risk to himself. The bandits could still have been lurking nearby.
There was to be no gain for the Samaritan, he sacrificed his own place on his donkey to carry the man to a nearby town, and even paid for this man to have a room in a hostel.
The love he demonstrated was purely sacrificial, it was about helping someone else, without any sense of ‘what is in this for me?’
Maybe we all could learn to love more by following the example of the Sea Sponge, and The Good Samaritan.
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