Sunday July 10, 2022 The Fifteenth Sunday Ordinary Time (Cycle C)
The tie in between today’s readings: The Law of Love
Just as God the Creator has physical laws that govern the universe. The Lord is also God the Judge with moral laws that apply to everybody, everywhere, every day. Our reading in Deuteronomy 30:10-14 has Moses rhetorically asking, “Where can anyone find these majestic directives of the Almighty? Up in the unreachable heaven? If so, who would come down to give it to us? Or, maybe, we need to send the bravest among us to a strange land beyond the sea? Does anyone know the way? “It’s not necessary,” Moses answers. The great God of the cosmos planted His sublime code in each of our hearts and if we pay attention to them, we’ll discover that…
8 The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether.10 They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.11 Moreover, by them Your servant is warned; In keeping them there is great reward (Psalm 19:8-11).
It would be hard to find anyone to disagree with the Psalmist’s conclusions about the Law of God, especially when you see two people who are usually at odds, Jesus and a lawyer, both agreeing on its summation in Luke 10:25-28.
25 And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.”
It gets trickier, though when you go from the abstract and try to move it to everyday life where the rubber meets the road.
29 But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
Kindness Even During a War
We had just searched a small village that had been suspected of harboring Viet Cong. We really tore the place up-it wasn’t hard to do, but had found nothing. Just up the trail from the village we were ambushed. I got hit and don’t remember anything more until I woke up with a very old Vietnamese woman leaning over me. Before I passed out again, I remembered seeing her in the village we had just destroyed and I knew I was going to die. When I woke again, the hole in my left side had been cleaned and bandaged, and the woman was leaning over me again offering me a cup of warm tea. As I was drinking the tea and wondering why I was still alive, a helicopter landed nearby to take me back.
The woman quietly got up and disappeared down the trail.
The thing that makes Good Samaritan stories different from all others is their rule breaking compassion. These people free themselves from the chains of the expected and challenge themselves to do God things. She broke the rule of “an eye for an eye” to give aid to a dying soldier that shot up her village. The Samaritan broke the rule of self-preservation and risked himself by saving a beaten stranger on the Jericho Road, also known as the “bloody pass”. The biggest rule breaker of them all is God. In His plan to save mankind, He turned the universe upside down: the master became the servant, the offended became the conciliator, the beloved became the forsaken. Romans 5:10 tells us that though we were His enemies, God reconciled us to Himself through the death of His Son. That idea is reinforced in our reading today in Colossians. Jesus, the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation did it all to reconcile us back to the Father by making peace through the blood of His cross.
The actions of the Almighty don’t make sense because we measure them with our perspective. We live according to our rules: the rules of human nature, the dictates of society, and the truisms of prejudice. God, however, is looking for revolutionaries that want to be compassionate rule breakers like Himself. The Lord has written His laws in our hearts! He wants us to think like Him, respond like Him, and love like Him. This is not natural. It can only be achieved by the radical change of Christ in our lives. The Law giver wants us to become law livers! The challenge of the Good Samaritan is daunting because it costs us something up front in time, money, commitment, and especially the command to die to ourselves. The Holy Spirit can empower us to fulfill the Law of love by breaking the hold of the lesser rule of “me first”. Our Father commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves. This is the Law written within. Let us show that we love God with all our hearts by seeking His power to fulfill love of neighbor. The Samaritan did. Let’s go and do likewise…law liver!