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The Fifth Sunday After Pentecost C, July 10, 2022

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The Fifth Sunday After Pentecost C, July 10, 2022

This legal expert came to Jesus full of sincerity and eager anticipation. Jesus sent him away dashed and humbled. As an expert in the law, the man sought Jesus’ approval of his interpretation of the law and what it commanded. Essentially, the lawyer gave Jesus two quotes, one from Deuteronomy 6:5 and the second from Leviticus 19:18. Jesus himself uses these two quotes when he is asked which of the commandments is the greatest (cf. Mk. 12:30; Mt. 22:37). Summed up: Love God with everything you’ve got and love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus then promises the expert in the law that if he could do these things, he would live (inherit eternal life). 

At hearing this, the lawyer has the desire common to every sinner descended from Adam and Eve. It passes from generation to generation as the original sin. “Desiring to justify himself” (vs. 29), the legal expert seeks to provide some finite limit to the law’s infinite demands. The “Do this!” of Jesus’ response (vs. 28), is a demand without boundaries and has no limit. The finite capacity of a human being, restricted by both time and ability, cannot fulfill that boundless and limitless command. 

Sinners, upon hearing the law, immediately make two assumptions. They first assume (as did this lawyer) that inheriting eternal life requires their “doing” (vs. 25). Secondly, they assume that the law can be confined… that limits can be placed on its infinite demand. Just so, by these erroneous assumptions, sinners seek to fulfill their desire to “justify themselves.” The law becomes a means of self-justification rather than an extension of mercy (love) toward the neighbor (cf. vs. 37).

No doubt, both the priest and the Levite in the Good Samaritan parable had excellent legal justification for “passing by on the other side.” Jesus exposes the lawyer’s desire to be justified in himself rather than to be justified in Christ. You, too, possess that original sin. Your preacher must expose it, killing you with the law’s consequences for sinners. And then, your preacher must speak the Gospel into your ears to give you the life of Christ.

Table Talk: Discuss how you commit and participate in original sin.
Pray: Heavenly Father, make me to know my sin and be confident that Christ is the life of dead sinners. Amen

Luke 10:25-37 English Standard Version

25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

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