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 neighbour 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 neighbour?’ 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 travelling 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 neighbour 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.’
Sometimes I imagine the Church as a class of students about to play a game. Every time they are about to start a different student raises his hand and asks some question that the teacher has to answer before they can begin. Sometimes the questions are helpful and clarifying, but more often than not they are unnecessary “what about” questions that are clearly only being asked because the student doesn’t want to participate. The teacher may say something like “love each other,” and the hands shoot up in the air.
“What if x did something to me?”
“What about homosexuals?”
“Were there dinosaurs on the ark?”
The direction was clear, but the students are hoping to avoid it. This passage is straightforward in how Jesus expects us to treat one another. He gives an explicit, detailed example that models how we are to treat one another, and yet there are still hands being raised.
“Was I predestined to love others or do I have free will?”
“What if they’re just here to take our jobs?
“Did you mean me?”
Love God. Love others. Any teacher knows that students must ask questions in order to learn, but they also know the difference between an honest question and a student who just wants to get out of doing the activity. Remember our focus for the week: don’t get caught up in the minutiae. God has a clear purpose for all of us. Let’s GO!