Through Christ the universe is united

  • July 3, 2013

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

The commandments of God are really not complicated but the number of human excuses for ignoring them are infinite. The author of Deuteronomy, speaking in the literary voice of Moses, insisted that the commandments were not too onerous or difficult. They were not “up there” somewhere in heaven, off in the ozone or across the sea in a distant land. The shocking truth is that God’s Word is inside of us — written in our hearts and souls — and all we have to do is listen and live our lives in harmony with it. God does not allow us to be rudderless or without guidance and we cannot plead ignorance as an excuse for wickedness.

Both St. Paul (Rom 2:12-16) and many of the Church Fathers believed that all people have the basic law of God written in their hearts.

Those who seek truth, justice and the highest good and obey their inner conscience can be saved. This applies to those of non- Christian faiths as well as those who do not have any formal faith. The 20th-century theologian Karl Rahner spoke of those who were “anonymous Christians,” people who lived their lives as though they were Christians even though they followed other paths. When Pope John Paul II visited India he referred to Mahatma Gandhi as one who was more Christian than many who claimed to be. Recently Pope Francis commented that even those who considered themselves atheists are not excluded from salvation if they lead exemplary lives.

This bears witness to the kindness, mercy and generosity of God and should be a cause for rejoicing rather than resentment or denial.

For the people of Israel, the Law and the covenant was the ultimate expression of their relationship with God. For Christians, the Gospel of Christ represents the fullness of faith that completes our searching and yearning.

All of this makes perfect sense when we consider that Christ reconciled all things to God and brought peace by the blood of His cross. In Him all things were created and all things are held together. Christ is far more than a great teacher or prophet, for He is the unifying principle of the universe. Since the fullness of God dwells in Christ, no part of creation or humanity will be outside the dominion and the compassionate love of God.

What does God require of us to have eternal life? The lawyer asked that question of Jesus. The response of Jesus was simple: love God with everything you have, holding back nothing, and your neighbour as yourself. God wants our heart, mind and soul, not just a few pious words or rituals. God has to be as precious to us as our breath and heartbeat. The lawyer pressed Jesus further: who is my neighbour? Instead of a catechism-like response, Jesus responded as a rabbi with a story or parable — the Good Samaritan that we know so well. The commandment of Jesus was to go and do likewise. It was more than an exhortation to do good deeds for it called for a change in consciousness.

Jesus taught us that in God’s eyes there is no “other” to hate, despise or fear. We are all part of one another and of God. We are victims of serious illusion and misunderstanding when we think of ourselves as separate from or superior to others. Religious, ethnic, racial or social boundaries that separate, demonize, label and exclude are dangerous human creations. Our neighbour is every person on the face of the Earth, eliminating any boundary or limit to our compassion and kindness or theirs. Go and do likewise and you will be saved.