It was a hot July day and the crowds gathered and jostled for the best positions. They gathered to listen to the preacher who worked miracles, and associated with sinners and outcasts. He was a very peculiar man this Jesus, who spoke of God as his father and their father too with such authority that they could not help being moved by his words. He spoke of eternal life as God’s gift to all who ask for it and how he would be the way and the path to that life.
And so it was that a scholar of the law stood up in the crowd and asked him a question, a question that resonates down through the centuries to our own time and place, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Our readings today all respond to this question and offer us a deeper understanding of our relationship with God. We are reminded that keeping God’s law is not only possible, it is the deep desire of our hearts because the essence of the law is written by God deep within our hearts. Recall how Jesus responded to the scholar of the law, “What is written in the law? How do you understand it?” – In other words, what does your heart say about what is already written on it? Jesus underscores this point in the story he later tells of the good Samaritan by demonstrating that keeping the law of God is not so much a matter of how well tutored we might be, but how well we listen to the heart. Jesus’ parable makes our understanding of the love of God concrete by demonstrating that we love God best when we love our neighbor.
What a beautiful lesson Jesus gives to us on this hot July day as we gather to listen to God’s word and to carry it out by our lives.
And so the psalmist says what is already written on our hearts:
“Oh God you are my God, for you I long…..”
Deacon Fred Sorrentino ministers at St. Mary’s Church, Colts Neck, NJ.