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.”
Both the rich young man (Matthew 19:16-24) and the scholar of the law (today’s Gospel) asked Jesus, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Both times Jesus emphasized 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 remain just 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 because he knew the answer. So Jesus raised 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 told 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. It is not important to God how smart we are or how much money we have. Jesus cares about what comes from the heart – LOVE & MERCY.
We may have everything that this world considers “successful”. We may have the intelligence at the 99th percentile on the standardized tests. 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 matters in eternity are our relationships with God and others. What matters 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 generous we are with the gifts God has given us, how willing we are to forgive those who have harmed us…
Let us not place our security in things that will be left behind. Let us invest in the things that last forever by loving our God with our whole being and loving our neighbor as much as we love ourselves.
Where do I invest my time and energy?
Where do I find my peace and security?
How much time do invest in my relationship with God? With others?
Have a blessed day!