There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test Jesus 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?”
“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.”
I just returned home safely from the wonderful pilgrimage to Rome. Tomorrow we begin our priest retreat for the Diocese of Joliet at Mundelein Seminary. It will be a great week to reflect on the graces of the pilgrimage. Please keep us in your prayers while we are on retreat. I hope to keep the posts going during the retreat.
Jesus is asked, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” by both the rich young man and by this scholar of the law. Both times Jesus emphasizes the importance of maintaining the law, namely the law to love God and love neighbor. The way that we live our lives is extremely important, according to Jesus. It is important to have a personal encounter with Christ. But it cannot end with a “me and God” relationship. Our faith must be put into action in LOVE.
The rich young man was excited because he followed the law. The scholar in this gospel felt kind of snug. So Jesus raises the bar for both of them. For the rich young man, Jesus challenged him to sell everything he had to follow Jesus. For the scholar, Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan. The Samaritan was the outcast of society and he did the most loving thing by caring for the man left for dead by the side of the road.
The scholar of the law probably thought pretty highly of himself because he knew the law inside and out. The rich young man probably felt secure by having many possessions, like many people today. Jesus doesn’t care about how intelligent we are or how much we have materially. Jesus cares what comes from the heart – LOVE & MERCY.
My friends, we may have everything that this world considers “successful”. We may have the intelligence at the 99th percentile. We may have enough money to be secure the rest of our lives. We may have a very impressive job title. We may have a house in an exclusive gated community. We may have the car that turns heads as we drive down the road. None of this matters in eternity.
What does matter is how much we love, how willing we are to serve our neighbor in need, how willing we are to lay down our lives for others, how willing we are to forgive those who have harmed us…
Let us not hide behind our job titles or material possessions. Let us worship out God in spirit and truth by putting our faith into loving action.
Have a blessed day!