Deuteronomy presents us with the Mosaic law. It claims to be ‘close to us’ and a reflection of God’s will. Many of us have an ambivalent view of law, however, whether secular or religious. Laws can sometimes seem irrational or unjust.

The paradox is deepened by Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan. The priest and Levite avoid the injured man out of obedience to Mosaic law – to attend to him would have made them ritually impure. The Samaritan is a religious outcast, a violator of Mosaic law. Yet he does the right thing, according to Jesus. Is Jesus advocating breaking the law?

Yes and No.

The clue to understanding this can be found in Colossians. Jesus is presented as the pre-existent Word present with the Father at creation. The Word – or Law – that speaks creation into existence. In short Christ is the essence of the Law.

All laws are human constructions reflected our fears and hopes. Even divine law is human discernment of God’s will. It can be distorted. It is history and culture-bound. The gospel call is to discern the divine essence or spirit of any law behind its human expression.

Join Anthony Egan SJ as he reflects on the readings for the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time — Year C.

Read the texts in your Bible or hover your mouse over the references below to see the texts.
Deuteronomy 30:10-14; Psalm 69; Colossians 1:15-20; Luke 10:25-37

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