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The greatest gift

Monday XXVII OT Lk 10:25-37

There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test Jesus 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." He replied to him, "You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live." But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" Jesus replied, "A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off, leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn, and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, 'Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.' Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers' victim?" He answered, "The one who treated him with mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."

It feels like we have two parts to this Gospel. There is an incredibly important question, then a story that illustrates the answer. The scholar of the law recognizes something in Jesus that intrigues him deeply. Something about Jesus has fascinated him to such a degree that he knows he has found the man who can answer his deepest questions in life. There is some deep wisdom in this man. If there is one question you should ask the creator of the world and the savior of mankind, it is this one: “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus answers with the commandment of love that summarizes the Old Testament and lays the foundation for Christian life. Love comes first. In our relation to God, and in our relationships with others, we are to love first and ask questions later. This is the message of the story known as The Good Samaritan.

The story of the Good Samaritan challenges us to the core. How willing are we to help those around us? Even the best of us tend to have great limits on how, when, and where we help people. We limit ourselves to protect ourselves and our own comfort and well-being. Jesus offers us an opportunity to leave ourselves behind and learn how to love purely and selflessly. This is the greatest gift. Take it.

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