RCL Year C, Proper 10
Deuteronomy 30:9-14, Psalm 25:1-9, Colossians 1:1-14, Saint Luke 10:25-37

The Deuteronomist is a tough character. You heard the topic sentence of his theology in the First Lesson: “For the Lord will again take delight in prospering you, just as he delighted in prospering your ancestors, when you obey the Lord your God by observing his commandments and decrees that are written in this book of the law.”[1] In other words, keep God’s commandments, and God will prosper you. Disobey God’s commandments, and God will not prosper you. This theology obtains in Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, I and II Samuel, and I and II Kings, most of the historical books of the Old Testament.

The Deuteronomist’s theology serves as the background to the Gospel today. In fact, the lawyer quotes Deuteronomy[2] when he answers Jesus’ question by giving what we call the Summary of the Law.

The law commands that we, that faithful people everywhere, love God and our neighbor. The law commands love, and the question is “What, if anything, limits the love we are commanded to give?” Jesus’ answer to that question is the well-known Parable of the Good Samaritan that is found only in the Gospel according to Saint Luke. His answer is, really, that there are no limits on the love we are commanded to give, for there are no limits on what the Good Samaritan does. There are no limits on the love God gives to us, to all of his creatures. His love knows no limits. The Good Samaritan does everything that he can think of for his neighbor, robbed, beaten, and stripped. The priest and the Levite ignore the commandment to love, choosing to take no chance of breaking the commandment to remain ritually pure by refusing to touch a body. And of course the man is no body; he is alive, and he needs help.

The Good Samaritan sets a high standard, a standard not many can reach. But Jesus doesn’t dumb it down; he does not relax nor bend the standard. He gives no one a pass. The standard set by God in his love for us and the standard achieved by the Good Samaritan Jesus does not bend. It remains for time and for eternity.

What are we to do if we cannot match it? I should say, what are we to do since we cannot match it?

We are to grow in love. We are to use our wills, decision by decision, day by day, to approach ever closer to the standard. You would be right to say that you have been given the time and the grace to make this effort. The progress we make brings us closer to God, closer to Jesus, and closer to the Holy Spirit. Whatever else are we here for?

[1] Deuteronomy 30:9-10.

[2] Deuteronomy 6:4-5.