Lydia Cristini


Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – July 10, 2016
Deuteronomy 30.10-14 | Psalm 69 | Colossians 1.15-20 | Luke 10.25-37
June 27, 2016

The law and the heart; Jesus had a lot to say about this topic. Some of his harshest words were to the spiritual leaders of the day, who followed the law "perfectly" . . . and then used it as a stick to keep the rest of the people under a heavy burden.

It is an easy trap to fall into: to feel like we earn our way into heaven by doing good. It creates a false sense of security, this belief that we can earn salvation. Then, when that happens, we often look down on people who do not follow the rules as properly as we do.

Or, conversely, we can feel we are not good enough for heaven because we are not doing enough good. We can trick ourselves into thinking our salvation is dependent on us.

The lawyer asked Jesus, 'And who is my neighbour?' - Luke 10.29

'The lawyer asked Jesus, 'And who is my neighbour?''

Luke 10.29

The thing is, we are not good enough, even if we do everything right. Or, to put it another way, we are good enough, even if we do everything wrong.

Our innate goodness is given to us, at the moment of our conception, because we are created in the image of God.

After that, we make decisions, which either bring us closer to or take us farther from God.

However, salvation comes from Christ. It is a gift; but to accept this grace from Christ, we need to make conscious decisions to cooperate with it. Ironically, we cooperate with grace by following the law.

The good news is, as Moses says in Deuteronomy, the law is written on our hearts. However, the problem is we are sometimes so affected by the influence of worldly cares, concerns, temptation or sin that we become deaf and blind to this law in our hearts.

This is where C.S. Lewis' "pretending" comes in. In Mere Christianity, he distinguishes between bad and good types of pretence. Good pretence "leads up to the real thing. . . . Very often the only way to get a quality in reality is to start behaving as if you had it already."

Like most things in life, there is a delicate balance between action and heart. Our hearts can be the source of change in our outward actions, and we can also use our outward actions to change our hearts.

This comes in handy for most of us trying to live out the commandments in today's Gospel. Loving God with our complete selves and loving our neighbours as ourselves is a tall order.

Moreover, loving a neighbour as the good Samaritan does is a huge challenge. As many people know, the Jewish people of the day despised Samaritans. The fact the Samaritan helped a person from a group which had discriminated against him testifies to the kind of love we are to have.

With God's grace changing our hearts, and a commitment to pretending our hearts have already been changed, perhaps we can follow the law in the way Jesus intends us to follow it.