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.”
But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus,
“And who is my neighbor?” (Lk 10:25-28)
I’m sure I didn’t just hear you right, did I?
Did I hear you ask a question because you wanted to justify yourself? To Jesus?!
The arrogance of that young man. Just who does he think he is?
Oh. Um. You know, he just may be you — or me.
We oftentimes take that approach in our relationship with God, don’t we?
We ask God something or tell God something and then we try to justify ourselves.
But, you know what? There is no justification for many of the things that we do or say or leave undone or unspoken.
When the young man asked the question, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan. When He finished the story, Jesus asked the young man which of the three was “neighbor” to the one lying in the street. The young man had to admit that it was the Samaritan. And Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.”
That was certainly not the expected answer, especially since Samaritans were the enemies of the Jews.
But Jesus was trying to teach a much bigger lesson.
My only hope is that the young man grasped the lesson.
A further hope is that we can grasp the lesson as well. We are not God, God is God. We are His loyal subjects. We are called to love one another. We cannot justify most of the things that we do or say. We rely on the mercy of God.
There’s a whole lot to learn and, in the final analysis, oh, so little time.
FAITH ACTION: Do you spend a lot of time making excuses when you talk to God? Spend some honest time with Him in prayer today.