One lesson I’ve learned in life is that things are often very simple to understand, but not easy to do.
Case in point, this Sunday’s Gospel reading.
“Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25)
A big question asked by a scholar of the law to Jesus. One would expect a long answer to be given, but Jesus asked the scholar what is already written in the Law, which the man knew and answered. The entirety of moral teachings is then summarized:
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.
Amazing! That is it, that is all we have to do! Simple right?
But of course, as human history, has taught us, it is not easy.
In fact, as our own lives have shown us, this command is very difficult.
Yet God equips us with the grace and tools to love.
Taking a Closer Look
The first part, loving God, means connecting with Him fully, united in prayer to grow closer to Him. To want to avoid sin and seek forgiveness. To want to do His will, not out of fear, but in awe. To be aware of the power of God, especially the power of His love. Everything of ourselves is given over to loving our creator more and more.
God constantly goes further to meet us where we are at. He has given us the Sacraments to encounter Him and remain close to Him. We do what we can with our heart, being, strength, and mind, as limited as it is, trusting even more in God’s infinite love, strength, and wisdom.
In seeking to love God more, we are naturally drawn to help our neighbor.
This is the answer to the great faith/works debate. Are we saved by faith or by works?
In our Catholic tradition, we understand that “Our justification comes from the grace of God.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1996)
In that justification, the Catechism continues “But grace also includes the gifts that the Spirit grants us to associate us with his work, to enable us to collaborate in the salvation of others and in the growth of the Body of Christ, the Church.” (CCC, no. 2003)
With God’s grace, we are sent out to help our neighbor.
Keeping it Simple
But who is our neighbor? The man asked to which Jesus answered with a parable. This led the man to answer his own question, the neighbor is the one who treats the other with mercy.
“Go and do likewise.”
Sometimes when the world seems too complicated, and especially when I don’t have all the answers, I like to ponder that verse, and reframe everything going on with those simple commands: Love God and show mercy to my neighbors.
Daniel Quintero is a newlywed husband, writer, and avid karaoke singer. He currently attends Prince of Peace Catholic Church where he volunteers in the lector ministry and with faith formation. His favorite motto: “Awkwardness does not exist.”