08Oct 08 October. Monday, Week 27

1st Reading: Galatians (1:6-12)

Paul’s Gospel message came to him directly from the Lord

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel, not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are confusing you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to what we proclaimed to you, let that one be accursed! As we have said before, so now I repeat, if anyone proclaims to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let that one be accursed!

Am I now seeking human approval, or God’s approval? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still pleasing people, I would not be a servant of Christ. I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

Resp. Psalm (Ps 111)

R.: The Lord will remember his covenant for ever

I will thank the Lord with all my heart
in the meeting of the just and their assembly.
Great are the works of the Lord;
to be pondered by all who love them. (R./)

He makes us remember his wonders.
The Lord is compassion and love.
He gives food to those who fear him;
keeps his covenant ever in mind. (R./)

He has sent deliverance to his people
and established his covenant for ever.
Holy his name, to be feared.
His praise shall last for ever! (R./)

Gospel: Luke (10:25-37)

The key social question, Who is my neighbour?

A lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal lie?” 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 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 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.”


Turned upside down

Personal conviction marks the letter to the Galatians At its heart Paul states a core truth of his gospel, namely that in the Christ-community there is no hierarchy of Jew over Greek, master over slave, male over female, for all are one in Jesus (Gal 3:28). This vision, which we will read again on Saturday, is vital for Paul. It came to him directly from God, not from Peter or any of the other apostles. Jesus had sent his apostles to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:5), but Paul turns to foreigners, not only for hearts to convert, but also for new styles of worship, new ways of describing our relationship with God.

Another novelty emerges in today’s gospel. A lawyer-theologian poses a problem to Jesus about everlasting life, the most serious of all theological questions, and then tries to justify himself because he already knows the answer. When asked, “Who is my neighbour?” Jesus answers by praising a Samaritan, whose people who were despised and rejected by Israel as heretics and spoilers of the Torah.

How do we regard our “Samaritan” neighbour, people we dislike or look down on, who seem to be ignorant or willfully wrong, or who have somehow taken advantage of us? Don’t judge too soon; Jesus says, Listen to them for they may teach you how you could to better and follow God’s holy will. Admire they way they care for someone in urgent need. We can be biased and self-righteous, so proud that we miss the signs of real goodness around us.

Being a good neighbour

That lawyer asked Jesus two key questions. The first was, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” He then asked, “Who is my neighbour?” That second question draws from Jesus the parable of the good Samaritan. However, that parable doesn’t really answer the question, “Who is my neighbour?” but answers another question, the one Jesus asks at the end, “Which of these three proved himself a neighbour?”

In fact, the parable tells us what it means to be a neighbour to someone in need. For Jesus it is more important to be a neighbour to others than to debate the limits of who can count as my neighbour. The answer to the lawyer’s first question, about inheriting eternal life is “Be a good neighbour.” If you want to know what it means to be a neighbour, think about the Samaritan. What the priest, the Levite and the Samaritan all had in common is that they all noticed; they all saw the broken man by the roadside. What distinguished the Samaritan is that he responded to what he noticed. His seeing gave way to compassionate serving. It is the kind of seeing that characterized Jesus’ whole ministry. Jesus’ answer to the lawyer’s first question is “Be a neighbour in the way that I am.”

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