Sunday, November 4, 2012

Looking ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker 

There are very few conversations in the Bible that ever took place between Jesus and a member of the Jewish establishment that could be considered mutually respectful and honest.

Most of the time there was an attempt to trap Jesus by forcing him to make a comment with which they could then publicly embarrass or even condemn him. This conversation was not only respectful and honest but also a genuinely thoughtful and searching moment of truth.

Of the 613 laws or prohibitions found in the Jewish law, the scribe seemed to be truly seeking Jesus’ input and perspective about the law. Jesus’ answer, at first, is rather obvious. He gave the "schema" from Deuteronomy: to love God with all your heart, soul, and strength. Then he attached to that a prescription, a command from Leviticus: to love your neighbor as you love yourself.

Most brilliant of all was the attaching of one to another as if to say, "you can only do the first if you are doing the second." Loving self and neighbor is loving God. The scribe "got it"! He understood Jesus' message and gave it back with a reflection, which showed his appreciation for the truth spoken by Jesus and which showed understanding of just how important this teaching was.

Jesus, too, appreciated the understanding and the honest statement of appreciation shown by the scribe and told him: "You are not far from the kingdom of God." There is no doubt, not only from this passage, but also from Jesus' constant and consistent teaching that love is the most important law for all.

To really love God always leads to loving others.

To really love others and self is to love God. Or as St. Augustine said: "Love: then do what you will!"

Father Perry D. Leiker is St. Bernard parish administrator. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112.

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