Sunday, Jul. 10th 2016

Avoiding Book Answers

Jesus has a knack for avoiding “book” answers. When the scholar of the law in today’s Gospel asks Jesus about gaining eternal life, Jesus responds with a question: “What is written in the law?” The scholar gives a good answer, a “book” answer, but Jesus sees that the man doesn’t hold the law in his heart. So when the scholar asks another question, Jesus avoids a “book” answer yet again and responds with a parable, a parable that Jesus hopes will help the man live authentically live the law.

Jesus proceeds to tell us the parable of the Good Samaritan. As he clearly shows, it is not one’s status in society that matters, but one’s heart. The first two people that “passed by” the wounded man on the road knew the law, but did not carry it in their hearts. They knew that they were supposed to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But they didn’t in practice. We don’t know if the Samaritan knew the law or not, but the Samaritan had love in his heart. When he saw the man dying on the road, he “was moved with compassion.”

St. John of the Cross says that “in the evening of life we will be judged on love alone.” We won’t be judged by how well we know the commandments or whether we read our bible every day. Sure, those things are great, but they’re pointless if they don’t drive us to have the greater love in our hearts that Jesus asks of us. We need to question ourselves: do we have love in our hearts? Do we notice friends or co-workers struggling around us and try to help them? Or do we avoid them and “pass by on the opposite side?” When we see a homeless person begging for money on the side of the road, are we “moved with compassion” to volunteer for and donate to food pantries and homeless shelters? Or do we drive on without a second thought? Are we living a life based on “book” answers, or are we living a life of love?


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