Christ is the reconciling force of nature

  • June 30, 2010
15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) July 11 (Deuteronomy 30:10-14; Psalm 69; Colossians 1:15-20; Luke 10:25-37)

What does God want from us? How should we live? What is right and wrong? These are questions that people have wrestled with for centuries.

People being what they are tend to create answers to those questions that are unbelievably complicated and abstract. Sometimes they are even spiritually, psychologically or physically damaging. Human sacrifice, religious violence or religious justifications for grave injustices are just a few of the darker possibilities.

The author of Deuteronomy insists that the law of God is incredibly simple and not difficult to find. No need to search high and low or go to extreme measures for it is written in our hearts. Learned and complex theological and philosophical systems are not necessary to understand it. It consists in giving one’s heart and soul to God and living this out by acting with compassion and justice towards others. Period! And as the rabbis say, the Law of God is not a burden but a joy. It gives life to one’s soul and to the souls of others.

Then why do we experience such difficulty in living this divine law? We engage in such avoidance, doing almost everything except what God asks of us, because we are afraid. We know that walking God’s path will move us out of our isolation and self-centredness and rearrange our personal universe. And we know that we will have to let go of a lot of baggage. So we allow ourselves to be distracted from the beauty and simplicity of the genuine God-centred life. Recentring ourselves on God would help us to overcome our differences — those between Christians and those we have with those of other faiths. It would also bring much peace to human hearts and contribute to the process of healing our world.

Jesus was one whose will was in complete and perfect harmony with God. Since the fullness of God was pleased to dwell in Jesus we have a model or pattern of one who was truly human and truly divine. The reconciling and healing effects of unity with the divine source and will are evident in the fact that Christ became the reconciling force of creation. All things began in Him; all things end in Him.   

The lawyer asks one of those perennial questions — what do I have to do to be saved? Again, as in the first reading, the response is breathtaking in its simplicity and comprehensiveness. Love God with all your heart, soul and strength — and your neighbour as yourself. There is enough there for several lifetimes.

Our friend cannot resist the temptation to clarify and analyse so he asks who his neighbour is — no sense wasting love on someone who doesn’t qualify. Jesus replied with a story, a very effective way of teaching. We are all familiar with the story, the man who was beaten, robbed and left for dead is ignored by two members of the religious establishment, a priest and a Levite. The one who takes the time and expense to show him hands-on compassion is one of the hated and despised “other” — a Samaritan. Jesus ended the story by asking which one acted like a neighbour and the answer was of course the one who showed practical mercy.

Love must not be subject to artificial barriers and conditions and it especially must not be confined to those of one’s own group, culture, ethnicity or religion. Jesus challenged the worldview of His audience and helped them to expand their spiritual awareness. He does the same today with those who are open. Who is our neighbour? Who is the “other” and how does the spirit of Christ invite us to respond?

The command from Jesus is addressed to all — go and do likewise.