October 8, 2012 - Monday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Galatians 1:6-12
Psalm 111:1-2, 7-10
Luke 10:25-37

St. Paul is declaring his allegiance to the Gospel of Christ. He considers the Gospel more important than any wisdom that a philosopher could provide. He considers the Gospel more important than any prophecy that an angel could send. He considers the Gospel more important than his own opinions. The Gospel comes from Jesus Christ. This is why the Gospel is greater than any other religious teaching. Instead of wisdom or prophecy, the Gospel is about facts. The Gospel is simply the facts about Jesus. Here is what happened. Even, as today, when the Gospel contains a teaching, it is given simply as a fact that Jesus gave this teaching, told this story. Indeed, as great as the story is, and this parable has been very important to people through history, it is more impressive to watch Jesus do what he did in this conversation.

Jesus told the story about the Good Samaritan to a scholar of the law who had stood up to test Jesus. This scholar had surely studied the law and the various interpretations of the law. He could have, without a doubt, quoted any verse of the law to Jesus. So he asks Jesus a question, not to find out information, but to test Jesus. Well, what does the test reveal? Jesus knows what he is doing. He reverses the test back to the scholar who proves that he has learned the law because he is aware of what the two greatest laws are.

Then he asks a question, but this time it is not to test Jesus but to justify himself. In this short conversation the scholar has gone from testing to sincerely asking. He trusts Jesus enough at this point to ask a sincere question, which has surely been bothering him: “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus answers the question in the end by reversing the scholar’s question. Instead of considering who was the victim’s neighbor and then determining who needed to be loved, he says that the neighbor is the one who loved. This is the remarkable truth about Christianity. Instead of deciding whom we are obligated to love and respect, we begin with the love and respect and discover in each person whom we love a child of God, one of our neighbors. The scholar came with a test about laws, Jesus turned it into one of the most memorable teachings about mercy.