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MONDAY HOMILY: What Must I do to be Saved?

By Fr. Stephen B. Reynolds
October 7th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The love of which the scriptures speak is not simply a question of attachment or loyalty, but of total self-giving.  God asks for a complete self-surrender.  He does not want any dusty corner of our soul to be overlooked. The love of which the scriptures speak is not simply a question of attachment or loyalty, but of total self-giving.  A love that consumes "all" our heart, being, strength, and mind.  God asks for a complete self-surrender.  He does not want any dusty corner of our soul to be overlooked.

SUGAR LAND, TX (Catholic Online) - "Nothing matters as much as that you save your soul."  Good advice, given to my grandmother to anyone who would listen.  She never failed to put things into perspective.

My grandmother knew that while salvation is an unmerited gift of God, the promise of which is first received in baptism, it is not an absolute guarantee.  In order to receive the gift of salvation, one must learn to orient their life to God and to identify with his will. 

"To live, grow, and persevere in the faith until the end we must nourish it with the word of God; we must beg the Lord to increase our faith, it must be 'working through charity,' abounding in hope and rooted in the faith of the Church" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 162).

The scholar of the law, whom we meet in today's Gospel, is concerned about salvation.  His interest is not merely theoretical, but deeply personal, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" (Luke 10:25; emphasis added).  Perhaps this scribe had a grandmother who habitually reminded him of the need to strive to be worthy of heaven.

We're not surprised that Jesus deflects the question back to the questioner.  As a scribe, this man would be conversant in the Old Testament, and so Jesus points him to the world of God as the source for the answer to his question.  "What is written in the law? How do you read it?"

Clearly, Jesus wants the scribe to have a personal, intimate knowledge of God's word.  "How do you read it?" Jesus asks.  A timely question for each of us.  Do we read the word of God?  Do we have an easy familiarity with this repository of divine revelation?  God doesn't want his word to be printed and placed upon a shelf.  He wants it to be received and placed within our hearts. 

In response to Jesus' question, the scribe quotes the Old Testament; "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart. and your neighbor as yourself" (Luke 10:27).  The simplicity of this two-fold commandment is deceiving.  How do love God with all our heart, not be mention our neighbor?

The love of which the scriptures speak is not simply a question of attachment or loyalty, but of total self-giving.  A love that consumes "all" our heart, being, strength, and mind.  God asks for a complete self-surrender.  He does not want any dusty corner of our soul to be overlooked.

It is interesting that the scribe does not ask Jesus how to love God totally, but directs his attention to the identity of his neighbor, the object of his charity. Perhaps the scribe already knew that he could not love the God who is invisible unless he could grow in the love of his neighbor who is standing before him.

In response, Jesus tells this beautiful parable.  A parable is a story that teaches an important moral or doctrinal lesson.  A parable usually revolves around some distinctive point that captures our attention.  This is why it is so important to consider the time and place of those who first heard the parable, so as to understand its lessons more completely.

The dramatic detail of this parable is the fact that it is a Samaritan who renders aid to the injured man at the side of the road, while the priest and Levite pass him by.   The Jews did not accept the Samaritans as authentic members of the Chosen People.  They were categorized as ritually impure.

The Samaritan's charity therefore stands in high relief.  Someone who was considered rejected by God performed a godly act, while those who were presumed to be among God's faithful acted with hardness of heart.  Even if the priest and Levite had good human reasons for their failure, at the very least they were blind to the duty God had placed before them.

This parable forces us to ask some uncomfortable questions.  Do I judge others based upon their appearance or reputation?  Do I think that my faith gives me a "free ride" to the point that I don't need to be concerned about others? Am I attentive to the unexpected ways in which God is breaking into my life, especially in unforeseen and unexpected circumstances?

Today is also the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.  Let us implore the Mother of God to intercede for us, so that we may grow in the love of God and of our neighbor.

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Fr. Stephen B. Reynolds is the Pastor of St. Theresa Catholic Church in Sugar Land, Texas. You are invited to visit them on the Web at: www.SugarLandCatholic.com.

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