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God's Word on Sunday: We will find the law of love, oneness within

  • July 3, 2022

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

Where can we find God? Even the greatest mystics and saints experienced times in which they felt that God was absent. They struggled with doubts and fears, as do most people.

Unfortunately, many people seek to fill this perceived emptiness with all sorts of things — possessions, power, careers, relationships, drugs, alcohol or the many distractions that capture our attention. Some give themselves over to ideologies, movements and self-proclaimed prophets. But the nagging sense of emptiness and longing will not go away, and none of those substitutes will suffice.

Deuteronomy has words that are both comforting and challenging, just as applicable today as when they were first written. The people of God were commanded to love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength, and that meant obeying God’s law. Perhaps anticipating excuses some might offer for not following the law, Deuteronomy is direct and uncompromising.

We do not have to go anywhere or engage in any search for guidance in our journey through life. We do not need mystical heavenly journeys and we have no need of exotic settings or esoteric doctrines. Not only is the divine law accessible to all, it is not too difficult (but not always easy) to follow. We meet God in the inner sanctuary of our hearts and that is where the divine law — the law of love and oneness — is inscribed.

“The word is very near to you” is similar to the teachings of many holy men and women who have insisted that God and the divine law are closer than our own breath and heartbeat. Sometimes this insight is in the form of a story about someone who undertakes an arduous journey looking for buried treasure. Unsuccessful and discouraged, they return home, only to find buried treasure underfoot in their own house. Deuteronomy insists that God has provided all the guidance that is needed for a faithful and holy life. But we are responsible for seeking and finding the divine presence within and following wherever it leads us. As always with God, there are no gimmicks or shortcuts.

To most observers, the world seems chaotic and out of control. And in many respects, it is, but Colossians gives us a broader view. Christ was before all things and now is the firstborn from the dead and the governing force of all humanity. After his return from his earthly sojourn, He became the unifying force in the entire world. He has subdued all of the forces opposed to God and has brought them under His dominion. If that is the case, we might ask, where is there evidence of this? It does not seem to be reflected in what we experience. But dominion is not force — it is invitation and transformation. The dominion of Christ must be accepted into human hearts and minds before it can be effective. Humanity will eventually get there, but how soon that occurs is entirely up to us.

The crowd around Jesus was seeking the answer to the perennial question: What does God want of us? Jesus did not make up something new, He turned to the tradition of Israel and quoted Deuteronomy and Leviticus. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength, and your neighbour as yourself.” It is very simple — not easy — and it is written in our hearts.

But the inquisitive lawyer was not satisfied — he wanted a definition of neighbour. Jesus answered with a story about the man beaten and left for dead. The pious folks passed him by, but the despised Samaritan stopped, rendered aid and spent time and money taking him to an inn to recover. He saw human suffering and need and responded accordingly. The law was written in his heart — the labels so important to people did not matter, and he needed no external authority. When Jesus asked the crowd who was the neighbour to the one left for dead on the road, they replied, “the one who showed him mercy.”

The reply of Jesus echoes through the centuries to our own day: Go and do likewise. Mercy is the divine law; mercy is another name for God. By “doing likewise” we continue the process of bringing the world into harmony with Christ.