In today’s Gospel, the familiar parable of the Good Samaritan, we read of a lawyer who stood up to test Jesus. His question was this, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” This is a question for us also. What must we do?
The lawyer’s understanding was this, “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 neighbour as yourself)” (Luke 10: 25 ff).
Metropolitan Anthony of blessed memory used to quote a father who said that if all scripture was lost, it could be rewritten, be written again, by observing the lives of Christians. Their lives would display Christlikeness and all His teachings would be evident in their devotion to God and their love and care for neighbours.
I wonder how true this would be if we were the ones to be so observed, and through the example of our lives would, for example, the teachings of the Sermon the Mount and the teaching of the Good Samaritan be discernible. The lawyers response to Jesus is, of course, a summary of the Ten Commandments of Old Testament times. In our lives, is it true and evident that we have loved the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind and with all our strength; that we have never made for ourselves an idol to replace God; that we have never dishonoured Him; that we have remembered the Lord’s day to keep it holy; that we have honoured our father and our mother; that we have committed no murder; that we have not committed adultery; that we have not stolen; that we have not been a false witness; that we have not coveted anything which belongs to our neighbour? As we consider this, we have to remember Our Lord’s extension of these commands; that cursing a brother is a form of murder, that looking on anyone with lust is adultery, and so on. (Matthew 5: 21-48)
For us Christians it is the Beatitudes which are to be our guide rather than the ten commandments only. It is the Beatitudes Which give the standard with which we assess our lives. Am I poor in Spirit, knowing my need of God, do I mourn for my sins and wrongdoings, am I meek and lowly of heart like Jesus, do I hunger and thirst for righteousness, am I merciful, pure in heart, a peacemaker, do I rejoice and be glad when men persecute me and say all manner of things against me for Christ’s stake? Do I rejoice greatly when I think of my reward in heaven for being faithful to Christ?
In these Commandments and Beatitude’s is the Good News! The teachings of Christ are not to point out that we have failed - we know that when we reflect on our lives - the Good News, written in the Commandments and Beatitudes is to tell us who we really are; sons and daughters of God, made in His image, being transformed into His likeness. The Good News is not to condemn us but to help us to know who we are and to become what we are meant to be. These Commandments and Beatitudes are guidelines to enable us to live a better fuller life. The young lawyer had lived within the Commandments and now stood before Christ to be lead on a new path. When he asked, ‘but who is my neighbour’, Jesus gave the example of the Good Samaritan and then said, ‘Go and do likewise’. We hope the young lawyer was able to respond.
Our Lord says the same to us, ‘Go and do likewise’. The challenge is great, and we should heed it so that our lives are also changed. As we enter into the Nativity Fast, we might think again of our commitment to the one born into our midst, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas. We might assess again what it means to be made in the image of God and now in the process of being transformed into His likeness, the likeness of Christ. God became man that we might become like God in the likeness of Christ whose life we share through our baptism. The imperative is there, the guidelines are revealed, may we, with the young lawyer, be transformed likewise.
This mainly contains homilies and messages from our priests, although there is some scope to share thoughts and interesting articles which we may want to share with others