Entrance Antiphon: Ps 17(16):15 — “As for me, in justice I shall behold Your face; I shall be filled with the vision of Your glory.”
First Reading: Dt 30:10-14 — “The word is very near to you: you have only to carry it out.”
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 69:14, 17, 30-31, 33-34, 36, 37 — “Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.”
Second Reading: Col 1:15-20 — “All things were created through Him and for Him.”
Alleluia: Jn 6:63c, 68c — “Alleluia, alleluia. Your words, Lord, are spirit and life; You have the words of everlasting life. Alleluia, alleluia.”
Gospel: Lk 10:25-37 — “Who is my neighbor?”
Communion Antiphon: Ps 84(83):4-5 — “The sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for her young; by Your altars, O God of hosts, my King and my God. Blessed are they who dwell in Your house, forever singing Your praise.”
Over the years there has been and continues to be opposition in our country to displaying the Ten Commandments on public property. It continues even today. Somehow these laws are seen as violations of the separation of Church and State. Actually, they are part of the natural law written in every human heart. They are not “up in the sky or across the sea.”
The most basic natural law is, “Do good and avoid evil.” It tells us how to relate to our Creator, to ourselves, and to our neighbor. Because of human weakness, God spelled it out for the people of Israel through Moses. Other civilizations developed similar precepts ... similar rules ... similar laws. The Jewish people over the centuries developed a whole body of laws from this starting point. We Christians also use the Ten Commandments, as you can see in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, as a kind of skeleton on which to hang our whole code of conduct. These basic commandments are or should be shared by everyone. When they are disobeyed – or not even known – things go badly for the human race.
The scholar of the law who spoke with Jesus in today’s Gospel knew the law of Moses: “Love God; love self; love one’s neighbor.” Jesus told him that he could inherit eternal life if he did that. Then the man posed a question and got an answer he did not expect. Asked to define just who the neighbor was, Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan and asked the scholar to pick out the neighbor in the story. Saint Luke tells us that the man was seeking to justify himself. He and the other listeners were shocked at Jesus’ story. Jews did not associate with Samaritans, let alone take charity from them. The scholar expected that he would be reinforced in his righteousness by Jesus’ reply. Instead, he probably recognized himself as one of the characters in the story who “passed by on the other side.” His expectations were shattered when he realized that Jesus was asking him to love an unlovable person.
In 2022, just what is it that we are to do? Jesus says to us, as He said to His surprised inquirer: “Go and do likewise.” Loving our enemies is probably the most difficult thing we are called to do, right? Think about it. We have trouble simply forgiving our family and friends when they hurt us. But criminals? Foreigners? People of different religions? Politicians who do not belong to our political party? Politicians who are in our political party but who don’t act the way they should? The opposing football team? People from the neighboring town? This kind of love is certainly beyond the prescriptions of the natural law. We might call it an “unnatural law.” It is true ... we are “unnatural” people if we are real followers of Christ. Like Jesus Christ, we are counter-cultural.
Look at today’s Second Reading if you want to see something beyond our nature. The Letter to the Colossians describes a heavenly being in whom the fullness of God is pleased to dwell. Jesus risen and glorified in heaven has taken our human nature into His divine dimension. He has made peace by the blood of His cross. And in Him all things in heaven and on earth are reconciled and held together. He who loved His enemies enables us to love ours – not by our own power but by His grace, as members of His Body, the Church. True, we human beings have trouble keeping even the basic commandments. Yet we are asked to do much more. We are called to go beyond the natural law to supernatural love, and thus to save the world.
To put it another way, God’s commandments are written on our hearts. Jesus invites us beyond the commandments. He has transformed us as members of His Body, the Church so that we can follow the example of the Good Samaritan.
In the Eucharist, Jesus shows us the kind of love He wants us to have. As He gives Himself totally, unconditionally, lovingly to us poor, wounded, and sinful creatures, He invites us – actually, He commands us – to “go and do likewise.”