13th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Walking in Neighborly Compassion
Deuteronomy 30: 9-14
Psalm 25: 4-11
Colossians 1: 3-8
Luke 10: 25-37
In our gospel today, the Lord emphasizes one thought: to love the Lord our God is to obey Him and to love those who He loves. Christ told us what love is: if you love Me, you will obey Me. Love is a verb and it is something that we live out in our own lives. Keeping the commandments of God is not just learning about them that if things get uncomfortable, we don’t keep them. We should try to obey the Lord regardless of our feelings.
When I was younger, I had a quarrel with my sister, and we ended up not talking with each other. This feud went on for seven years. One day, somebody talked to me about Jesus Christ, and I surrendered to Him. Another time came and as I was praying, God brought to my remembrance my sister, and I prayed for her with so much effort like I was going through pregnancy. The Lord spoke to me and told me to invite her to a Life in Spirit Seminar and she agreed to do so and she received Jesus Christ in her life. Our dispute then was gone.
One of the things God fixed in my life is to live according to His terms. God says, “You call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ but you do not do what I say.” The one who loves the Lord is one who keeps His commandments. He is one who has divine encounters with the Lord and who lives the love in the way He showed us what love is.
In the gospel of Luke 10, it says, “‘And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?’” A lawyer went to Jesus and his attitude was not one of learning or of humility. His attitude was of testing or proving the Lord our God. During that particular time, there were scribes and students of the Law, and they found great pleasure in intellectual fencing where they try to maneuver and outdo each other as who is the smartest and who has everything.
When we come to the Lord our God, we don’t come to Him and challenge Him in this particular way. Humility plays a very big role in the Lord our God. Scriptures clearly tells us to humble ourselves before the Lord. When we talk about humility, it is really saying, “Your ways, Lord, and not my ways.” It is yielding to the ways of God. It is yielding to the Word of God. It is yielding to the principles of God. Humility is not arguing with God and telling Him that we are going to do it our own way.
Humility is saying, “Lord, if this is the way it is supposed to be, then, this is the way I am going to live. I am going to change. I am not going to ask You to change and to adjust to me. I am going to change and to adjust to You.” Serving God, loving God, and obeying God is according to His terms, not according to ours. God doesn’t like pride. It is an abomination to Him.
For many of us, when we make mistakes, one of the things we would say is, “Well, we are living in an imperfect world. There is a tempter who is trying to make us fall.” There is someone who wants to deceive us so that we may step out of the boundaries of God that we might be exposed to his tricks.
Once upon a time in heaven before man was created, there were only the angels and God. There were three archangels – Michael, Gabriel and Lucifer. Once upon a time, Lucifer loved God. Once upon a time, he served God. One of the things God describe about him is, “You are the son of perfection.” Somewhere along the line, something happened to Lucifer. He fell in love with himself and maybe, he thought that the glory he was giving to God should be his also. Lucifer said, “I will build my throne above His throne. My throne will be higher than His throne.”
When we trespass, when we sin, it is because we yielded to the temptation of the enemy. In Lucifer’s case, there was no tempter. He lived in a perfect environment. There was nothing there except for the love of God. Because of Lucifer’s action, the perfect harmony in heaven was gone and brothers became enemies. According to Scriptures, once upon a time, Satan was Lucifer, the carrier of God’s glory and light; then, he was remained Satan, the adversary.” Jesus said, “I saw Satan thrown from heaven like lightning.” In the Book of Hebrews, it says that the holy vessels we have can be washed by other things, but it will take the blood of Jesus to cleanse the vessels that are in heaven. What is to be cleansed in heaven? I cannot imagine heaven having a single speck of something that is considered dirty.
Sin defiles. No wonder God hates pride. Scriptures says God resist the proud, but He gives grace to the humble. It is one thing to be resisted by men. They might be powerful, rich, charismatic, well connected, but it they are men, there is always a possibility that we will be able to overcome the resistance. Men are not perfect and they may resist for a time and die, then, there will be no resistance. If God is the one who is resisting us, there is no hope of winning! There is no hope of overcoming God. There is not a glimmer of hope that we will eventually overcome the resistance of God. The only way is to humble ourselves before God. He resists the proud, but grace He gives to the humble, that is, when we humble ourselves before Him.
The lawyer from the gospel does not get a direct answer from the Lord because of his attitude. In the Psalms, it says, “To the humble, He will show the ways of life.” Many of us want to find out the formula of success. What are the principles that will finally bring us to the top? It is really not hidden. The Word is near us and it is not stored in a place where it is unreachable and one that we cannot find it. We don’t have to go to the seven seas in order to find it. It is really not far says the Lord. It is in the Word that He has given to us – in our heart and in our mouth. All we have to do is to live it out.
The lawyer asked Jesus, “What is the greatest commandment?” Jesus said, “You are the student, so you tell Me.” So he answered, “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 neighbor as yourself.” Jesus said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.” For the lawyer, it was a matter of intellectual prowess. Jesus Christ says that it is not a matter of being able to explain it correctly. Loving God is a matter of walk not just of talk. Just because we can define what love is, it doesn’t mean we get it; but if we live out the love of God, then, Jesus can say to us, “You got it correctly.”
When God tells us to love with all of our heart, soul, and mind, it means we love Him in everything. We have been healed by God. God had provided for our financial needs. We have received guidance from God when we needed it the most. We have received help from God. All of these we have received from God because He loves us. If God tells us to love Him, how hard is it to love Someone who already loves us? God wants us to love Him not ceremoniously, but with everything that we’ve got. If we love God, we don’t reason out with Him. If we love God, we cannot have an aggressive attitude against Him. We have to humble ourselves before our Lord. If we love God, we have to live it out.
In the second part of our gospel, the lawyer did not want to give up in questioning Jesus and so he asked who was his neighbor. He wanted to justify himself. He wasn’t asking this to know to whom he was to give favors to; he was asking this to know to whom he should not give favors to. So, Jesus goes through with the Good Samaritan story that we all know.
In a previous chapter, there was a time they wanted to go through a Samaritan village for a short cut. But according to the Scriptures, the Samaritans did not let Jesus passed through, so this made John and James mad saying, “Lord, shall we call on fire from heaven?” Jesus comes to the story and He mentions the Samaritan. Probably, if it were us, this will be a good time to make fun of Samaritan. This will be a good time to pay back and to make them look silly and ridiculous. This is a good time to probably say something about them and make them the villains of the story.
To the Jews, the Samaritans were considered half-breeds. They intermarried with the pagans. They were considered defiled and unfit for God’s service. The Jews avoided contact with the Samaritans whenever possible and considered them worse than pagans. They were considered ceremonially unclean and socially outcast and religiously heretics. They were like us. The Jews were considered the natural branches. We, who are not of them, once upon a time we were strangers and aliens to the common wealth of Israel. We were once on the outside looking inside. We were strangers and aliens without God and without hope in the world as Ephesians says. But because of the love of God, He sent His Son Jesus that whosoever shall believe in Him, like we have, will not perish but will have everlasting life. An everlasting life is connection to God and we don’t get the blessings of God when we die and when we get there. We get the blessings of God while we are here on earth.
We were unnatural branches. We were grafted into the tree. We were grafted into Jesus because of the love of God and the mercy and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. With the Lord, no one is beyond redemption. When Jesus spoke about the Samaritan, He made him the hero of the story. He was the one who stopped. He took action and he did not debate on whose fault it was. He picked him up, treated him, and brought him to an inn. He used his own money in order to get the Samaritan well. The Samaritan was the hero of the story and the Jews would look at them as the bad guys.
The Lord always sees the good in us. The Lord always sees the potential that is in us. Even while we were failing, He sees the good in us. The grace of God is able to get anyone lifted up. Even when friends and families give up on certain people, God will never give up on us. Basically, God loves the unlovable. He is saying to us, “Don’t just pay attention to your favorite people, but to people whom I also love.” If we have someone whom we are not in agreement with, ask ourselves, “Does God love that guy?” If God loves that guy, He is God’s and we have to love them.
If we love God, we’ve got to obey Him. There are things that we able to do that is not really convenient or comfortable for us. There are things that we like from God – His blessings; His favor that He pours upon us; His healing. We don’t pray that God take the life a sick person. If we were the one lost, how would we like people to pray for us? In the eyes of God, He doesn’t call us hopeless. There is always a potential in us and He wants to bring the divine destiny within us.
God says, “What I did for you, I want you to do it for others also.” There is no such thing as a lost cause because God is involved in the picture. To love Him is to obey Him. If He is the One whom we love, the proof of our love is our obedience. If we love God, then, we get to love those whom He loves!