Reflections on the Readings for Sunday 14 July 2013
Deuteronomy 30:10-14; Psalm 19:8-11; Colossians 1:15-20; Luke 10:25-37
Moses said to the people: “If only you would heed the voice of the Lord your God….”. If only we took seriously the heart of the Law and the heart of the Gospel which are the same – love. Imagine a world in which people’s religious beliefs contributed to peace and human flourishing, where our faith helped us to make connections instead of build walls. That is the world that Jesus invites to live into, to real-ise. In the words of St Paul, Jesus Christ, the one who expresses the fullness of the divine Life, is the one in whom all things hold together, the one who gives his life to bring reconciliation and peace. That’s love.
The scholar of the law who asked Jesus how he could inherit eternal life had all the words right – note how it is not Jesus but his interlocutor who summarises the life-giving law in terms of love of God and love of neighbour. He knows the words but he’s missing their life and their power. He needs to learn a love that doesn’t carve the world up into ‘us’ and ‘them’. He couldn’t have been comfortable listening to Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan which makes the despised outsider the one who demonstrates love of neighbour. Our neighbour isn’t just someone in our own circle, it is anyone in need that we meet.
Do we seek spiritual wisdom in the wrong places? We think it must be profound and complicated – far above us or out of reach. But it is often simply acting on what we already know – it comes from paying attention and responding from the heart. I wonder what was going on in the heads of the priest and the Levite as they crossed the road to avoid the mugged man. No doubt their thoughts were rational and pious, and there were all sorts of good reasons for not stopping. Why did the Samaritan stop to help? Jesus said that he was moved with compassion at the sight of the man. He noticed, he was moved, and he listened to his heart. He reached across a boundary to connect with another person in a life-giving way. He loved his neighbour. He fulfilled the divine law.