Love of Neighbour is the First Law

“Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well, will not immediately pull him out on a Sabbath day?” (Luke 14:5)

Our Gospel passage today is quite short but loaded with a lot of messages. Jesus knew the Pharisees were not all in good terms with Him. He knew they sought ways to trap him. He knew their deep seated hatred yet He went to eat in their homes. Jesus called them hypocrites (white-washed tombs) but He never distanced Himself from them. As a Good Shepherd, Jesus did not mind walking into the “lion’s den” to rescue the lost sheep. He attended their dinners so as to speak to their hearts and save them.

This is what love really means; going out of your way, risking everything to help even those who hate you. Love is kindness to your enemies. Note, love is not about keeping quiet in the face of evil, it is not being diplomatic. Jesus loved the Pharisees but He would always tell them the truth to save their souls.

On this particular occasion, there was a man in the home of the Pharisee who had dropsy and because it was a Sabbath day, they were watching Jesus to see what He would do. Jesus knew they were watching Him; He could have decided to play to the gallery by pretending not to have seen the man but Jesus did not mind doing what is right even when such was very unpopular.

Luke tells us that the Pharisees were watching Jesus. They knew Jesus wouldn’t see a man in that condition and do nothing. It was like a trap for Jesus. Child of God, there are many who do not like you yet they never stop watching you hoping that you would make a mistake or something bad would happen to you (so they can have a reason to laugh at you or put you down). Unlike Jesus who could read people’s minds, we cannot tell who our true friends are, that is why we have to be prayerful; that is why we need the weapons of our warfare (Cf. Ephesians 6:10-20).

After healing the man, Jesus showed the Pharisees that in their bid to keep the law (thinking they were trying to please God), they were hurting a lot of people. They did not realize that if we do not love our neighbours, we can never love God. Jesus reminded them how they would untie their donkey that fell into a well even on a Sabbath day (without seeing it as work) but would not even be concerned about a human being that is bound by illness for a long time.

Love is the ability to see God in others especially in those suffering, the hungry, the thirsty, the homeless, the sick etc. There is no law that is more superior to the law of love. On the last day, we shall be judged based on how we kept this law of love; how we helped others or how we behaved like the Pharisees. Hence St. Paul prayed in today’s first reading for the Philippian church that “love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless…” (Philippians 1:9-11).

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, help me to make love my propelling principle in life.

Bible Study: Philippians 1:1-11, Ps. 111 and Luke 14:1-6).

Fr. Abu

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