July 14, 2019
(15th Sunday Ordinary Time, C)
Moses said, “For this command that I enjoin on you today is not too mysterious and remote for you. . . . it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out.” Dt_30:10-14
St. Paul wrote: Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. . . . For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things for him, making peace by the blood of his cross Col_1:15-20
There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test Jesus and said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” He said in reply, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” He replied to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” Lk_10:25-37
There are moments in our lives, beloved, when we’re struck with a wisdom that is so far beyond our comprehension, it can almost take our breath away. It sometimes, might take years for us to fully grasp the meaning, the immensity of God’s Love in those moments . . . Moments that mold our very lives. And, in one way or another, at some time, it happens to all of us.
For the victim in Jesus’ story, it was by the hands of a total stranger that his, nearly departed life was recovered. Regardless of WHO that victim was, and WHY he was there, alone, on a dangerous road, and despite the risk to his own life, that stranger, that Samaritan, IN that moment, WAS the very personification of God’s Love. And I can guarantee, that victim’s life was changed forever, from that moment on.
If you ever had the misfortune of being accosted by a robber, or a street beggar, or a gang, and survived the experience, you’d have a little glimpse of the love, the protection, the mercy of our God, poured out into your soul to give you a higher purpose than you’d ever had before.
This was the story of my childhood and young-adult life, growing up in some pretty rough, East Coast neighborhoods. And of all those experiences, one, in particular, stands out.
It was freshman year, in a small college, in a big town, 100-miles away from home. And this young, naive, semi-nerdy, semi-hippy, neophyte, gets teamed up to live with, probably, the coolest kid in our class.
Survivor of a broken family, street wise, with a black belt in karate, Sam, though legally blind without his inch-thick glasses, didn’t have to worry about Vietnam, like the rest of us.
If you were to describe Sam with one word, that word would be Charisma. Sam, with his cowboy boots and his Texas swagger, even though he was from Jersey, just like me. Sam, who was ALWAYS in total control of every situation. He was the big brother I never had.
And so, when the two of us found ourselves, one night, in a deserted, West-Phili subway, surrounded by a gang of knife wielding thugs, I was, to say the least, a little concerned. But somehow, I knew, that Sam, with his Black Belt, would rescue us.
And, as the voices got louder and the pushing got closer, I realized, instead, that it was, just, NOT going to happen. When, there, by the Grace of God, out of the blackness, our train finally arrived.
As soon as those doors opened, I could hear Sam yell, “RUN, Joe, Run.” And – Run, we did! . . . From one train car – to the next, to the next, I never realized there were so many cars on a subway train, as we were hotly pursued by a cloud of angry hornets.
When that train eventually stopped, we jumped off and ran some more. And after a few blocks, it was finally OVER! Sam lost his wallet, but we were both still alive!
Weeks later I asked him why he didn’t just klobber them. And he, in his casual, Sam manner, explained to me, that IF he attacked those closest to him, then I might have been hit by the others.
It was clearly ONE of those “Moments!” of – Incomprehensible Love! Of course, we’d never use those words. But it IS that Law, that Moses spoke of today. And it’s written in all of our hearts.
You see, this really IS the story of another young man, who endured the ridicule, even though he didn’t have to; who allowed a merciless beating; who bled and hung in shame; and who died . . . that WE might live!
And THAT – we do –
For it’s Through Him, and With Him, and In Him, and For Him, that We BECOME Him, that we become Jesus for others, just as my good friend Sam did, 47-years ago!
What about you?
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