From the Pastor – July 14, 2019

There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law?  How do you read it?”
He said in reply, You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Lk 10:25-27)

If you could ask God one question, what would it be? Would you ask about the future?  Would you ask for the next Powerball number? Next year’s Superbowl Champion? Or perhaps you’d want to know about something from the past. Why did Katrina hit us?  Why did my loved one have to die? Perhaps you’d want to know the answer to something current. Why do bad things happen to good people? What is the cure for cancer or AIDS?

If there is a more important question than the one the scholar of the law asks, then I can’t think of it.  This life is complicated and full of mysteries; but it’s short. The scholar asks the real question: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”  The question is inside each of us.

After Jesus questioned him, the scholar puts together two parts of the Old Testament: we must love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind (Dt 6:5); and we must love our neighbor as ourselves (Lv 19:18).  It’s a summary of the law. But that’s not the end of the story.

“And who is my neighbor?” he asks.  Then comes the parable of the Good Samaritan in which Jesus made even clearer that love had no limits or boundaries, and likewise our love should have neither.   It must be directed to God, but it must be practiced to be real. How can we claim to love a God we can’t see, when we can’t love the neighbor who we do see?  

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt 5:44), Jesus said.  Why? “So that you may be children of your Father in heaven who makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors and sinners do the same? … Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:46-47). 

God’s own unlimited love towards is the standard for our love for each other. Jesus was specific to St. Peter, who asked: “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive? Seven times?” Jesus responded: “Not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Mt 18:22) and specifically mentioned the Father’s unlimited mercy toward us as the model for our conduct toward others (Mt 18:23-35).  It’s a high bar. But it’s the bar Christ gave us. Don’t we want eternal life?

(Rev. Msgr.) Christopher H. Nalty