First reading: Dt. 30:10–14
Moses said to the people: “If only you would heed the voice of the LORD, your God, and keep his commandments and statutes that are written in this book of the law, when you return to the LORD, your God, with all your heart and all your soul.
“For this command that I enjoin on you today is not too mysterious and remote for you. It is not up in the sky, that you should say, ‘Who will go up in the sky to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’ Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’ No, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out.”
Second reading: Col. 1:15–20
Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he himself might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things for him, making peace by the blood of his cross through him, whether those on earth or those in heaven.
Gospel: Lk. 10:25–37
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?” Jesus replied, “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.”
In other words Fr. Flor Lagura, SVD (Christ the King Mission Seminary, Quezon City)
Often people ask, “Does God, with all the troubles and concerns in this world, still have time to love us?”
Many nations, especially the Israelites who were convinced that the are “God’s Chosen People,” believe in the love of a heavenly figure. The Israelites prided themselves as the “People of the Law!”
For this reason, Israel boasted of their special place in God’s heart. He gave them the Law as a sign of his boundless love, even a “prodigal” love, because, for some thinking beings, God’s love often does not make sense.
Yet, Jesus who, as the first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Colossians shows, is the face of God’s love; Jesus cannot be accepted by some religious as truly the Son of God. For how can the Pure Spirit take on the form of “flesh?” Flesh or matter, which is linked to being “carnal,” for many, is to be despised and, if possible, starved to death.
In his brilliant but gentle retort to the lawyer’s follow-up question regarding the great commandment, Jesus shows how to follow the commandments by loving God above all things and loving not only one’s neighbor but even enemies.
In the beautiful Parable of the Samaritan (remember that Jews despised the Samaritans as treacherous enemies to their race and religion; Samaritans being the children of the Assyrian soldiers who led their wives and children to pagan worship), Jesus gave an answer as to whom we should love.
Sad to say, the priest who passed by the victim avoided him by placing more importance on ritual purity for Temple worship than the love of neighbor. Likewise, the Levite (or deacon in today’s context) ignored the victim’s plight fearing he would be attacked; the victim might even be playing decoy for the robbers.
But the Samaritan, bold and daring that he was, mercifully picked the victim ups and took complete care of him. The Samaritan, a sworn enemy to the Jews, turned out to be following the law of love.
A writer once said, “In his infinite wisdom and limitless love, God—with a dash of humor—lumped together love of neighbor and love of enemies, for often, they are one and the same!”