my miscellany

Pentecost 5, 2022 — 10 Jul 22

Pentecost 5, 2022

Trinity Church, Boston – Good Samaritan, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=51535 [retrieved July 7, 2022]. Original source: Image donated by Jim Womack and Anne Richardson.

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

The First Lesson today introduces us to the Deuteronomist, the author of the core chapters of Deuteronomy whose influence reaches many other books of the Old Testament, notably Joshua, Judges, I and II Samuel, I and II Kings, which are most of the historical books of the Old Testament. The influence reaches even the prophet Jeremiah. The theology of the Deuteronomist may be summarized very simply: keep God’s commandments, and God will prosper you. Disobey God’s commandments, and God will not prosper you. [1]

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 lawyer’s question of Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?,”[3] seems to boil down to this. How do I know when I have fulfilled my obligation to love my neighbor? When may I move on and do something else?

The answer Jesus gives is the well-known Parable of the Good Samaritan that is found nowhere else in the Gospels. The parable does not permit any limitation upon the love of God and the love of neighbor. The lawyer may not clock out of the obligation to love God and his neighbor.

I suggest to you that Jesus’ answer is typical of him and of his teaching to us. He does not remove one jot, one tittle, from the Law, as he says in the Sermon on the Mount.[4] He tells us that he came so that the Law might be fulfilled. He tells us that our love of God and our neighbor requires everything that we have. We cannot get away with anything less. When Jesus gives us a new commandment in Saint John, when he tells us that we are to love one another as he loves us,[5] he tells us that our love for one another is to match God’s love for us.

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.

[3] Saint Luke 10:29.

[4] Saint Matthew 5:17-18.

[5] Saint John 13:34.

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