Gal 1:6-12; Ps 111:1,2,7-10; Lk 10:25-37
“He has ratified his covenant forever.”
If the LORD forgets something, it ceases to exist. All creation is kept in existence by the very thought of the Living God. For the LORD to remember his covenant for ever is the announcement that his covenant will last forever. Even when we are unfaithful, the LORD is faithful. For his faithful love we give thanks with all our heart in the gathering of his Thankful People, his Eucharistic People. Great are his works in all creation, such splendor, beauty, order; it’s breathtaking and exquisitely delightful. Not only has the LORD made all things good, the LORD has also given us his precepts to guide our interactions with each other and with all his creation. This Law of the LORD is another wonder of the world. His word guides us in truth and equity. Indeed, the LORD has delivered his people from slavery to possessions and attachments. Everything in creation can bring us to the Creator, holy and awesome is his name and his praise endures forever. How could anyone turn from such good news? How could there be any other truly good news. Indeed, Saint Paul make this clear in his debate with some of the Galatians in our first reading. In our Gospel passage the Lord Jesus is delighted that one of the scholars of the law understands his Good News, but this scholar still needs to hear the parable so that he can go and do what the Good Samaritan did.
The gospel heard by Saint Paul and preached by him among the Galatians is not unlike the good news that the Scholar of the Law was able to proclaim. However, among both the Galatians and in the heart of the Scholar, there remained a certain strain of self-justification. A certain group of believers were trying to maintain circumcision and other Jewish customs, and Saint Paul caught on quickly how dangerous this tendency was among his Galatian Converts. The good news is that the New and Universal Covenant between God and his creatures in the Blood of Christ is a wondrous and free gift from the Father and in the Holy Spirit. There is no way to earn salvation; there is no way to deserve the gift; there is no possibility of justifying one’s self. Indeed, we are all alike unworthy and we pray that truth throughout the Liturgy especially in the Eastern Church where the community is invited to pray, “Lord have mercy” constantly. Such a humble attitude enables constant gratitude to erupt from the heart of a believer. Without this kind of humility it’s all too easy to become proud of one’s salvation. Indeed, we can easily buy into the lie that we are our own source of salvation. Indeed, such awareness comes through a revelation of Jesus Christ. Saint Paul did not make it happen, nor did any other gospel preacher. This is why the Lord Jesus is so delighted with the scholar of the Law, but he too wanted to justify himself.
The Lord Jesus deals with all of us in a manner we can understand. He asks this expert in the law to answer his own question. You know exactly what you must do, and you have known it from childhood, so why ask me? The young scholar is not satisfied with his answer, even though he knows that it is correct. It is love for God and for neighbor that moves us into abundant life. So, the inquiry is prolonged, first by the scholar, who needs to know what is meant by “neighbor.” Perhaps at that time and in the scholars mind, the law hinted that one’s neighbor is one’s countrymen. Indeed, a good Jew always defended and protected the life of his community, and would go out of his way to take care of his neighbor. However, knowing exactly who the neighbor enables one to achieve a sense of well being; knowing full well that I’ve done as the Lord commanded. Finding security in doing anything for your neighbor enables you to miss out on the one relationship necessary. The scholar and all those in the crowd that day heard a parable that enables us to learn that our neighbor is anyone who needs us, Samaritan, foreigner, and even our enemy. To serve without bounds is the only thing that reveals the true love of God in himself and in our neighbors. Indeed, we must love as we have been loved and nothing less. This is the radical and unconditional love we encounter every Eucharist so that we have what it takes to obey the command, “go and do likewise.”