Homily for the fifteenth Sunday of the year - Year C - Lk. 10:25-37
Father Daniel Meynen
"And behold, a lawyer stood up to put Jesus to the test, saying, 'Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?' He said to him, 'What is written in the law? How do you read?' And 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 (Deut. 6:5); and your neighbor as yourself (Lev. 19:18).' And he said to him, 'You have answered right; do this, and you will live.' But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, 'And who is my neighbor?'
"Jesus replied, 'A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, 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, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, "Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back." Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?' He said, 'The one who showed mercy on him.' And Jesus said to him, 'Go and do likewise.' "
"And behold, a lawyer stood up to put Jesus to the test, saying, 'Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?' He said to him, 'What is written in the law? How do you read?' "
Jesus, during his life on earth, just like his disciples of today and yesterday, was subjected to trial and interrogation concerning his teaching. For Jesus always appeared in the eyes of his contemporaries to be a Teacher, and even the Teacher par excellence. Even in the most complete ignominy, Christ appeared to be he who knows all, for he is God: "Truly this was a son of God," exclaimed the centurion present at the foot of the Cross of Jesus (Mt. 27:54). Today as yesterday, ever since the day of Pentecost, the Church is also regarded as she who possesses the Truth, which is Christ himself. Thus, it is also to the Church that this question is posed: "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?"
Jesus provides the answer to this question. He says: "What is written in the law? How do you read?" For the answer is not something that needs to be invented: it already exists. For the answer is not subjective, but rather objective. The answer is clear: it is in the very Word of God. Now, this Word is Truth: "I am the way, the truth, and the life," says Jesus. (Jn. 14:6) Thus, the first answer to the question "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" consists in saying that eternal life is in the truth, that Truth which is God. On the eve of his Passion, Jesus prayed to his Father, saying: "Father... this is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." (Jn. 17:3)
Thus, to obtain eternal life, one must know God, who is the Truth! But this knowledge of God is a knowledge of love: to know the Truth that is God, is to know God, who "is Love" (1 Jn. 4:16). Thus, it is not necessary to be a great scholar to know God! Of course, there are some very well educated, and even erudite, people who know God. But this is not a necessity. Just before answering the lawyer's question, Jesus had clearly said: "I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to the little ones... No one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." (Lk. 10:21-22)
"And 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 (Deut. 6:5); and your neighbor as yourself (Lev. 19:18).' And he said to him, 'You have answered right; do this, and you will live.' "
The knowledge of God has been reserved for the little ones! This is not a question of the size of one's body, but rather of one's spirit. But is this possible? How can something spiritual have a size? Quite simply, by allowing oneself to be led by the attractions of the body and of the world in which one lives... Such a spirit will be an arrogant, haughty, proud spirit... He who has such a spirit is not a little one: he is not on the path of eternal life... On the other hand, he whose spirit can detach itself from worldly goods in order to establish itself in humility, such a person has already made great strides on the path of true life, of eternal life in God, in Christ!
The little ones are they who obey the Law and the commandments of God. They lovingly observe the precepts of the Lord: "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 (Deut. 6:5); and your neighbor as yourself (Lev. 19:18)." Humility and obedience: these are the virtues of those who advance, step by step, towards the abode of God, where the Love, Peace, and Truth of the eternal Word of Life reign! Let us not forget obedience to the Church, for she also teaches, following Christ. The Church also has her laws and precepts - human laws and precepts, it is true, but ones which have the force of law and which require our acceptance if we want, one day, to inherit eternal Glory in the presence of God...
"But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, 'And who is my neighbor?' Jesus replied, 'A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho...' "
This parable is well-known: it is the one called "the parable of the Good Samaritan". If it were necessary for all the men and women of the earth, from the very first, at the time of Creation, until the last, to know the Law and the Word of God in order to obtain eternal life, then I believe that Paradise would be a rather deserted place, with few people in it, while hell would have a new sorrow to which men would be condemned: that of overpopulation. Note well that I say this in light of my belief, which is found in the Gospel: "Many are called, but few are chosen" (Mt. 22:14) - that is, more people will be damned than saved. But the parable of the Good Samaritan rebalances this somewhat...
Indeed, it is clear that Jesus highly praises the charity of the Good Samaritan: certainly, it is an act which saves this Samaritan from damnation, just as it saves the wounded man from an undoubtedly cruel death. Jesus says so to the lawyer, after telling the story of the parable: "Go and do likewise." But what, in fact, was the act of the Good Samaritan? Did he obey the Law, with which he was in contradiction, given that he was a "Samaritan"? Did he hear the preaching of Jesus, who is one of the Jews with whom the Samaritan would avoid having any relations? No, neither of these is the case. In fact, the Good Samaritan listened to his conscience! He acted righteously, he followed his good conscience, and it is this that established him on the path of eternal Life! The proof of this is that he said to the landlord: "Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back."
"Many are called, but few are chosen." (Mt. 22:14) This remains true, even after reading the parable of the Good Samaritan. For, there were three people who came upon the wounded man. However, only one of the three helped him... Let us reflect on this question: "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" Let us ask the Holy Spirit to guide us each day of our life! Above all, let us pray to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary! She is the Mother of God, the Mediatrix of all graces! And yet, by her unequalled virtue, She is truly the least of the little ones!