In today’s Epistle, Jesus deals with one of the difficulties in daily life, including today. The problem concerns the question of when the following of rules needs to give way to the need for common sense. Is a doctor going to refuse to save a life because it happens to be Sunday? Such questions do arise!
Here and in another case, Jesus applies the basics of common sense in facing questions which can present themselves almost anytime.
In college, I learned quickly that if a professor repeats a point again and again, I’d be seeing it again, on an examination and perhaps in real life! And once again, the writer of the epistle places emphasis on what it is we are going to gain by completing all of this.
He also mentions the love of Christ, which “passeth knowledge”. This is a concept for us to understand, because it shows something waiting for us beyond our current comprehension.
CONTROVERSY ALERT! I feel tempted to add that because the lesson in today’s Epistle is almost identical to one we face today. In Paul’s day, some people were trying to pressure the Galatians to accept circumcision, even though Peter’s encounter with the centurion Cornelius proved it unnecessary.
Paul’s point here is telling people to stop being hung up on what is no longer necessary, and focus on the current reality of salvation through spirit.
The Epistle and the Gospel readings offer much today, but there was something in the Epistle which I found glaring. I also believe that many people would not notice it, but I did.
Please pay attention to the fact that English was unknown in st Paul’s time, and certain bits of terminology had not been brought into existence yet. Nevertheless, they were in use by the time of King James I of England.
That being said, a real prohibition by an apostle is being hidden behind a term better associated with Elizabethan paranoia! Like when the American press quoted a Soviet leader as supposedly saying “We will bury you”, we need more appreciation of the power of translation.
Following this Gospel reading can cause controversy, according to some. Everyone thinks they know the story of the “Good Samaritan”, but how often have we looked at it in any depth?
Again, we have an issue we see today, shown in Jesus’ time. In those days, Samaritans were the ones referred to as “those people” in much the same way as people today refer to immigrants, gay people, people of color, or anyone else who does not seem entitled to be “one of us”.
Jesus got a lawyer to admit that a Samaritan would be a neighbor! Doesn’t that have some implication for us?<br?>
There is a challenge here, and it takes the form of facing an issue we face today as much as in St Paul’s time! Do we want our reward to be merely the absence of punishment, or can we have something greater?
If following a set of rules provided one reward, might the greater reward come from something less complex? Then why don’t we pursue that?
The Epistle can be seen by many as yet another announcement of what should be obvious, but there are those who need to know. And there are those who need to be reminded.
And speaking of reminders, the Gospel reading exposes an uncomfortable issue which is at least as much an issue today as it was in Jesus’ time! Most of us can see that issue in someone, and we all need to be sure that we prevent it from being seen in ourselves!