Readings: Deuteronomy 30:10-14; Colossians 1:15-20; Luke 10:25-37
The Mass reading and scriptural theme we have been given for this Sunday’s celebration is very special. We don’t often get such a homogenous combination. The Gospel from Saint Luke is one of the most important readings we can have in a Sunday Mass. And combing it with the passage from Saint Paul’s Letter to the Christian converts in the town of Colossae makes it all the more rich. A person could have a marvelous time studying and praying over these readings today.
A religious legal expert asks an intelligent question of Jesus. Even though it’s hard to give the man credit for good will, trying to trap Jesus the same as many others of the religious authorities kept trying to do, Jesus gives the man an honest answer; a profound answer. Everything in the Hebrew Scriptures, in the Word of God, is summed up in one “greatest commandment.” Jesus tells his challenger that everything is about love.
Seeking God is not about making animal sacrifices or offering first fruits of produce in the temple or giving money. It is not about ritual purification in washings or eating certain foods. The Law of Moses goes on for chapter after chapter about those things; not eating this, not touching that. Jesus says that the religion God wants is all about love. It is only about love. About sincere love for God and a genuine care for my neighbors around me.
Jesus illustrates what he means by one of his stories. A Samaritan heretic, despised by Jews, wins God’s blessing instead of a sacred priest or Levite. Thank about that. We’re not fools and neither is God. A caring doctor, a dedicated lawyer, an inspiring teacher, we recognize who they are. A priest who is interested in you and wants to help you, a bishop who is someone you can respect and like. We can’t take people on face value.. We have to ask around and choose carefully. Because there are some tragic stories about those who abuse their role of service. Jesus certainly knew all about that, first hand. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites!
In Saint Mark’s version of the story, Jesus tells the man, You are not far from the kingdom of heaven; that’s not at all what he says to his challenger here. Jesus sees the heart of each one, just as he sees our hearts as well.
Where do I stand in all of this? What does Jesus see in me? Does he someone who is trying, who wants to do good, who cares? Please God, he sees that in us. But he also sees what we can do better. We are supposed to try to apply this morning’s Scripture readings to ourselves. The words of Jesus are enduring, not just something he said two-thousand years ago. This is not just a nice story that Jesus tells us. That’s not what we are here for this morning. We are hear to learn what God has to say to each of us. We are here to listen and to look at ourselves–and to ask God, in his great love for each one of us, to help us to be more like him. He cares, more than any one of us can. He wants to be loved by us with our whole heart, as much as he has always loved us. And he wants us to be good to one another. This is the whole of the Law and the Prophets.
Which one was neighbor to the victim of the robbers?…The one who treated him with mercy…Go and do likewise.