The First Letter of John cuts through any warm and fuzzy notions of love with a decisive evaluation: we reveal our love for God through our love for one another. May this practical test guide and direct our actions, powered by the love of Christ.
Have you ever tried to get a gift for “the person who has everything” and been frustrated in the process? Everything we have comes from God…everything! The Lord needs nothing from us, but asks for only one thing: a loving heart that reaches out to others.
Jesus, the Master Teacher, offers brilliant clarity in teaching about the great commandment to love God and one another. The teaching is simple and direct; the challenge is living out this commandment each and every day.
The story of the Good Samaritan takes many of us back to our elementary school days of religious education. It’s worth taking a moment to examine the structure of the context within which the parable is located in chapter ten of Luke’s Gospel:
v. 25 – The lawyer’s question
v. 26 – Jesus’ counter-question
v. 27 – The lawyer’s response
v. 28 – Jesus’ imperative & command
v. 29 – The lawyer’s 2nd question
v. 30-36 – The Good Samaritan parable
v. 37a – The lawyer’s response
v. 38b – Jesus’ imperative & command
The first half of this passage pertains to the notion of eternal life and what we must do – loving God and one another. This is a recap of the two Great Commandments, and we all generally nod our heads in agreement at the lawyer’s answer.
The second half, however, pushes the question “Who is my neighbor?” as Jesus uses the parable to point out that all people – regardless of race, color, religion – are our neighbor. Remember: the Samaritan is not Jewish, yet fulfills the command of loving the neighbor!
The takeaway for us today happens on many levels:
Our words and actions define us – especially when we are in challenging situations.
Who are the people in my life that are difficult to love?
How might I take steps to love these “neighbors” God sets before me?
While there are many ways to demonstrate our love for the Lord, a clear example occurs when we act in kind and merciful ways toward one another. May see clearly our neighbors and respond to their needs with the love of Jesus Christ.
We all know that Jesus commands us to love one another, but all too often we overlook the sacrifice it takes to follow the teaching and example of Jesus. All three readings today point out that there will be a cost…and we will pay it with our lives.