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Beloved of God

We will hear the whole Christian, Catholic life very gently stated in Sunday’s readings.

For instance. In the First Reading Moses explains how simple God's commands are. His words are beautiful.

God’s command is not too mysterious and remote for you. It is not up in the sky, that you should say, ‘Who will go up in the sky to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’ Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’

God has given you an open heart.

It is already in our hearts and in our mouths. We have only to carry it out.

But what is it?

In the Gospel, a lawyer is very interested in this question. He asks Jesus to boil down the law to a single saying. Since an answer would be “not too mysterious and remote,” Jesus asks the lawyer what the latter thinks it is. The man says by rote:

You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart,
with all your being,
with all your strength,
and with all your mind,
and your neighbor as yourself.

  “You have answered correctly; Jesus says. Do this and you will live.” But the man wants specifics. He is digging. Who is my neighbor, he asks.

What would be your answer to this question? It seems to be the crux of the matter.

For his part, Jesus is trying to get the man (and us?) to find the simple answer without having it handed to him. As before, Jesus does not respond directly, but this time gives the lawyer a parable to chew on.

A man fell victim to robbers. They beat him terribly, take his money, and leave him lying in the road, half-dead. A priest (an Israeli) saw this wounded man on the road and he passed right by, averting his eyes. A Levite (an Israeli) did the same thing. Along came a Samaritan, who theoretically should have been an enemy of the Israelis. But he did not avert his eyes or cross to the other side of the road.*

He approached the victim,
poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them.
Then he lifted him up on his own animal,
took him to an inn, and cared for him.
The next day he took out two silver coins
and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction,

  “Take care of him.”

Jesus asks him, “Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?,” and the lawyer says right away, “the one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus answers, “Go and do likewise.”

Jesus says the same thing to you and me. He keeps working with us, trying to get us to see the simple answer inside us. Go help those in need. God has given you an open heart. If only you would let your heart be wide enough to receive his love and then pass it on to his other beloved people!

So, this is not too mysterious or remote. Start now. Become what you were made to be. It is written within you.

John Foley, SJ
 * Jesus is not trying to slander the Israelis, he is showing that your neighbor is not just your own tribe or family or even just your friends. Every person on earth is your neighbor. Each is beloved to God, each is precious to the One we are to love with our entire strength, mind, self, and being.

Father Foley can be reached at:
Fr. John Foley, SJ

Fr. John Foley, SJ, is a composer and scholar at Saint Louis University.
Art by Martin (Steve) Erspamer, OSB
from Religious Clip Art for the Liturgical Year (A, B, and C). This art may be reproduced only by parishes who purchase the collection in book or CD-ROM form. For more information go