Fifteenth Sunday of the Year – 2016
So here is a question for you. Does God speak to you? Does God speak to you person-to-person? In today’s first reading we see that God spoke to Moses and gave him the Commandments to live by. Moses then tells everyone that these commandments are meant for all of us know, and learn, and live by.
Then Moses goes on to say that learning and knowing the Commandments will not be difficult – why - because God is teaching them to us in our hearts.
"For this command that I enjoin on you today is not too mysterious and remote for you . . . . no, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out." Dt. 30:10
So the Commandment teaches us what is right or wrong. Our conscience tells us, personally, how well we are doing with that Commandment and its teaching.
But over time, the Commandments became bogged down by a lot of add-ons, - interpretations and commentaries that various teachers of the law were adding to the commandments.
In the gospel story of the Good Samaritan, one such teacher of the law wants to know what Jesus has to say about moral living and eternal life. He frames it in a question: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus answers by pointing to the Commandments – you will find the answer there Jesus tells him. Then Jesus asks him, “What have you learned from the law?” The lawyer answers:
"You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself."
Jesus replies, "You have answered correctly; do this and you will live. Now remember this is a lawyer talking to Jesus and their heads are full of “What if’s - an's - and but's …” questions, like “who is my neighbour?”
Jesus answers with this beautiful parable – a man falls into the hands of robbers and is left on the road half dead … three men come upon him, a temple priest, a Levite, and a Samaritan … The priest and the Levite see him, and maybe in their conscience they feel sorry for him, but in their heads the rules forbid them dealing with blood which would make them ritually unclean and so unable to function in the temple as Priest and Levite. So they ignore their conscience and obey the rules, and leave him dying.
But the Samaritan, who is not all tangled up with temple rules, is free to follow his conscience – he stops and rescues the wounded man. Jesus asks the lawyer, who fulfilled the command to be his neighbour? He answers, the one who showed mercy – to which Jesus replies, "go and do likewise".
In St. Peter’s letter we read; “For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” 1 Pt. 1:15
In this year of Mercy, Pope Francis is reminding the whole Church that we must have in us the same mind and heart that is in Christ. We must shape our consciences by observing and imitating that conscience we see at work In Jesus. Our calling is to be holy. God’s name is Mercy.
The world we live in today is trying to reshape our conscience with a morality that excludes any mention of God. That is why our communion in the Church is so vitally important today. It is in the Church that Jesus is seen and heard; where the “Imitation of Christ” is priority number one – where we strive to shape our conscience to resemble that of Christ.
Perhaps a good ending to these remarks is St. Paul’s words to the Church in Corinth.
St. Paul writes; examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?
Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.
Greet one another with a holy kiss. (the sign of peace)
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Cor. 13:5&11
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