Scripture: Lecture: Deuteronomy 30:10-14. Psalm 69: 14,17,30-31, 33-34,36. Colossians 1:15-20. Luke 10:25-37:
Deuteronomy is another favorite book of the Bible for me. It is about the covenant and the word of God expressed in the covenant and the commandments. The book asks us to choose life over death in all things; to bless and not to curse. It is a book of comfort and consolation worthwhile reading during the summer. We are fortunate in today’s liturgical readings for the fifteenth Sunday in ordinary time cycle C to have it lived out in Jesus’ words to the lawyer who wanted to know who his neighbor is in the commandment of love of God and love of neighbor. A good question that Jesus will answer through a parable that we call the Good Samaritan and that allows each one of us to address the lawyer’s question to ourselves and find out how far our love extends. Such love eradicates prejudice, dislikes, and opens one to love of our enemies—something that is very difficult in these times of violence here at home, terrorism, and war both here and abroad.
The lawyer wanted to know how to enter the reign of God (heaven) and Jesus’ answer is contained in the parable recorded in Luke’s Gospel which is known as the Gospel of Compassion. Both Deuteronomy and the parable show us that God is very close to us through words and deeds that we are called upon to do. We are reminded elsewhere in John that we cannot say we love God whom we do not see if we despise, reject, cajole, or ridicule our brother or sister whom we do see! Deuteronomy tells us the law of love is in our hearts through the words of God expressed in human words spoken and written.
The lawyer who follows the Torah or laws of God is a practical man so he asks Jesus who is my neighbor. He finds out the answer as Jesus puts it into picture language of a parable. This makes it easy for us to know who is our neighbor. Loving one’s neighbor is part of God’s commandments, covenant, and law.
Jesus gives us the example of a good Samaritan who would be seen as a stranger, a heretic, and one to be despised. Far from being considered a friend the Samaritan would be suspected as a foe. Yet, this is the one who takes care of the poor man who is attacked on his way to worship in Jerusalem as he trudges up the slopes from Jericho. A priest and a Levite be going up to Jerusalem too, but they neglect the man who is left alone wounded. Only the Samaritan goes all out to help him recover. This seems to be the neighbor Jesus is talking about and the lawyer has a chance to grow in knowing what the reign of God is about. Would the lawyer follow the example of the Good Samaritan? Would we? That depends on whether we want to be present to God and to be doing the things that lead us to the kingdom of God (Heaven).
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.