There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” He said in reply, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” He replied to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds, and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn, and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.’ Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:25-37)
The two best known parables are The Good Samaritan and The Prodigal Son. They are loved, cherished and repeated often. Their message is very simple and very clear. But in spite of the simplicity, we have a tendency to obscure the message just as the scholar of the law does in today’s Gospel.
Why is that? What holds us back from making Christ’s standard our own? I wonder if part of us doesn’t really want to learn it. Is a life of self- donation too burdensome for some?
We are all sinful creatures. We all have some level of selfishness, which is tough to overcome. We aspire to live the golden rule and be our authentic selves, but our sinful nature creates comfortable shadowy areas in our lives. These may be material things or other little vices that (truth be told) we consider too important to surrender.
The bright light of today’s message is very clear. If we are honest with ourselves, we understand it perfectly. “Love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself, and you will live.” It is within everyone’s reach to live out this simple lesson and to understand that there are no limits as to whom the law of love must be applied. A neighbor is not simply one who lives next door or in our town or country. A neighbor is not of geography but of the heart. The Christian faith, following Jesus, reaches out beyond our tribal walls. Our “neighbors” are those who need us.
It is not enough to acknowledge Jesus Christ as our personal Savior nor is it enough to go to Church every day or to surround ourselves with Christian icons. None of that means anything unless we do good works and are kind to our neighbors. We must live the truth that we learn from the Gospel. We must apply the example of the Good Samaritan. In John 1:2:4-5 we read: “Whoever says, ‘I know him,’ but does not keep his commandments, is a liar, and in such a person the truth does not exist; but whoever keeps his word, truly in this person the love of God has reached perfection”
By loving as the Good Samaritan loves, we are on the path to a life that is never-ending, a life that we naturally long to experience and possess. We must always trust Jesus when we find that he places us in situations that stretch our love and generosity to limits that often hurt. He knows that we long for eternal life, but he also knows that the path to that life is a love that purifies, stretches, and demands our all. Therefore, Jesus invites us to follow him down the road of life-giving love. Every cross should remind us of this self-giving love that leads to life.
“Go then and Do likewise”.
Prayer of The Day
“Blessed Lord, increase my faith so that I may see you in every person I meet. Strengthen my hope that I may trust firmly that you will give me all I need to love as you ask. Deepen my love that I may experience the joy that comes from giving and not counting the cost.”
The secret to happiness and fulfillment is not about climbing a mountain or seeking knowledge from a faraway place in the sky or across the sea. It’s living a worthy life which is easily within our reach. Don’t make it harder or more complicated than it really is! The really exciting part of life, life’s lasting satisfaction, doesn’t come from some endless glorious search, it comes from the depth of our hearts.