Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”
But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’
Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
God’s law comes from God, the source of all truth. The final goal of God’s law is our reconciliation with Him. But sometimes we misuse the law, distorting its meaning and looking for loopholes that might give us an excuse for not fully embracing God’s truth. The challenge of the law seems to inspire more resistance than obedience in the rebellious heart.
Saint Augustine sums up this conflicted relationship to truth saying “They love truth when she shines on them; and hate her when she rebukes them.” Too often, we desire to be justified by her and yet are not willing to accept her counsel when it conflicts with what we wish were true.
Seeking the truth in the law requires holy indifference. When we think of holy indifference, we usually think about how it applies to created things or situations. We might find the courage to be indifferent to the sufferings that come with the sacrifices we make for charity. Or we might choose the hard road regardless of our attraction to the comforts of the materially rich life.
But holy indifference, loving the fullness of God’s law, requires us to be open to God’s purifying fire. His law will change us, if we let it. We will see the face of our neighbor in those who suffer and we will see the face of Jesus in our neighbor. This is what it means to love and this is what it means to follow the law. If we allow God to change us through His law, we will live out God’s law rather than simply be under it.
—Fr. John Brown, S.J.
Almighty God, teach me to do Your will. Take my right hand, and lead me in the right path. Draw me after You. With bit and bridle bind fast my jaws when I come not near to You.
Give me, good Lord, a full faith, a firm hope, and a fervent charity; a love for You, good Lord, incomparably above the love of myself; and that I love nothing to your displeasure, but everything ordered to You.
Give me warmth, delight, and quickness in thinking upon You, and give me Your grace to long for Your holy sacraments and, with tender compassion, to remember and consider Your most bitter passion.
Lord, give me patience in tribulation, and grace in everything to conform my will to Yours, that I may truly say: Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. The things, good Lord, that I pray for, give me thy grace to labor for. Amen.
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