07 Oct


“The preaching of Jesus at Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles, while it was in the large sense a failure [see the context], was not totally without some good results. Some men of good will were attracted to Jesus and wished to follow Him. At the moment Jesus Himself seems to have been moved by a feeling of urgency in the work He had come to do. He had preached the coming of the kingdom of heaven in Galilee and twice unsuccessfully at Jerusalem itself. But the rest of His homeland was still to be evangelised. Of those who were willing to follow Him He chose seventy-two and sent them throughout the country to preach the advent of the Kingdom of God. ‘He who hears you,’ He said to them,’ hears me; and he who rejects you, rejects me; and he who rejects me, rejects him who sent me’ (Luke X, 16).


The mission of the seventy-two disciples seems to have been successful, for they returned to Jesus rejoicing. ‘Lord,’ they said, ‘even the devils are subject to us in thy name’ (Luke X, 17). Jesus Himself rejoiced in their success, for He saw in it the beginning of the triumph of God and man over the devil. ‘I was watching Satan,’ He said, ‘fall as lightning from heaven’ (Luke X, 18). These words reveal once again the spiritual nature of the Kingdom of God. Jesus has come to do battle, not with the kings and princes of this world, not with the Persians, the Greeks or the Romans. He has come to do battle with Satan and his angels and the evil men who follow him. In the successful efforts of His disciples He sees the defeat of the devil. His vision goes even deeper, for beyond the defeat of the devil He sees the triumph of man. ‘Yet, do not rejoice,’ He says to His disciples, ‘in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice in this, that your names are written in heaven’ (Luke X, 20).


Then, still exulting in these first-fruits of His efforts, He turns to His Father in prayer: ‘I praise thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou didst hide these things from the wise and prudent, and didst reveal them to little ones. Yes, Father, for such was thy good pleasure’ (Luke X, 21). The leaders of the people, the priests, the Scribes and Pharisees, had rejected the preaching of Jesus. From them He received only disbelief and opposition. But the ‘little’ ones of the land, the poor and the oppressed, to them God deigned to reveal the truth.


Still in this mood of exultation Jesus once more reveals His true identity to His own disciples. ‘No one knows who the Son is,’ He says, ‘except the Father; and who the Father is except the Son, and him to who the Son chooses to reveal him’ (Luke X, 22). What is this mysterious relationship between Father and Son of which He speaks? It is so high, so mysterious and transcendent that only God can have a natural knowledge of it. Others may learn of it only to the extent that Jesus, the Son of God, reveals it to them. Jesus refers to that deep knowledge within the Godhead Itself whereby the Father, Who is God, knows the Son, Who is God, and the Son, Who is God, knows the Father, Who is God.


By claiming this intimate kinship of divine knowledge with the Father, Jesus is once again claiming to be God. It is not clear whether His disciples understood Him completely. Jesus has claimed knowledge on a par with the knowledge of God. But He does not glory in it. To ease the strain on the credulity of His disciples He says to them, ‘Come to me, all you who labour and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light’ (Matthew XI, 28-30). What Jesus teaches, then, is taught not from pride but from humility. What He asks of men is that they should listen to Him, learn from Him, not simply because He is God but because He speaks with the humility of God Who became Man. When God appeared at Mount Sinai in fire and cloud, accompanied by thunder, the people were afraid to look at Him. But now He has appeared in the humility of human flesh and He pleads with men to listen to Him. Could God do more for man? Could He give a greater blessing to all men?


But precisely because the Son of God has so humbled Himself, there is danger that His message will not be received, that His love will be spurned. And so Jesus warns His disciples: ‘Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I say to you, many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and they have not seen it; and to hear what you hear, and they have not heard it’ (Luke X, 23-24). Whether they fully realised or not at that moment, when the disciples looked at Jesus, they were seeing the fulfilment of the divine promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the promised blessing of Israel, and of all the nations of the world through Israel. They were gazing in wonder and perplexity at the Anointed One of Israel, the Messias, the Suffering Servant of Jahweh, the Twig of the House of David of the tribe of Juda, Emmanuel, the Son of God with us.


But there were still some who would test Him. A lawyer stood up and asked Him, ‘Master, what must I do to gain eternal life?’ (Luke X, 25). Jesus asked him what the Law of Moses commanded and the lawyer answered, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole strength, and with thy whole mind; and thy neighbour as thyself’ (Luke X, 27). Jesus said to him, ‘Thou hast answered rightly; do this and thou shalt live’ (Luke X, 28).


The lawyer was still not satisfied and so he asked Jesus ‘who is my neighbour?’ (Luke X, 29). In reply Jesus told the celebrated story of the Good Samaritan. A man journeying from Jerusalem to Jericho was set upon by robbers, who beat him, stripped him and left him to die by the roadside. A priest and a Levite, both men dedicated to God, saw him but passed him by. Then a Samaritan found him and was moved with compassion for him. He bound up his wounds and took him to an inn where he gave the innkeeper money to care for him. ‘Which of these three,’ Jesus asked the lawyer, ‘proved himself neighbour to him who fell among the robbers?’ (Luke X, 36). The lawyer could only reply, ‘He who took pity on him’ (Luke X, 37). Jesus then said to him, ‘Go and do thou also in like manner’ (Luke X, 37).


Now the striking thing about this encounter is this. By making a Samaritan a neighbour to a helpless Jew, Jesus widened the Jewish conception of ‘neighbour,’ and so widened the application of the law of love. The Samaritans were despised and hated by the Jews. In their turn the Samaritans often attacked and despoiled Jews travelling through Samaria to Judea. They were not regarded by the Jews as neighbours whom one must love. By insisting that the Jews must consider even the Samaritans as neighbours, and so love them even as they loved themselves, Jesus was really saying that all men are neighbours and therefore all men must love one another. In this parable then Jesus announces to the world the law of universal love.”
– Martin J. Healy S.T.D., 1959


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