Today our gospel reading opens with a question presented to Jesus, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” This question lies at the heart of each of our lives. How are we to live our lives here on this earth so that we might have a truly full and rewarding life that will extend beyond the limits of this life into an eternal life of joy in God’s Kingdom? Life is a gift and a grace that is given to us by God our Creator, how are we to use this gift fully and rightly?
Most people sum up our experience with life in a simple phrase: Life is hard. Finding joy in this life and living a truly full life seems to be so difficult and demanding to us. There seems to be so many demands placed upon us and there are so many conflicting opinions about what is right and wrong, what we should do with our lives, that we can easily get confused. How can we be sure that we are doing the right thing? How can we be sure that the choices that we make will result in a good life? We set out with good intentions but things just seem to go wrong along the way and we find ourselves broken down on the side of the road of life. Why does everything have to be so complicated?
Moses offers to his people a simple piece of advice today to “return to the Lord, your God, with all your heart and soul.” The first step of getting our lives in order when things have gotten out of hand is to return to the beginning, to the source of true life and blessing. With our hearts and souls set on God we can begin to uncomplicate our lives and gain a greater focus on what is truly important in life. Things don’t have to be so difficult and confusing. Often the troubles in our lives are caused by a divided heart. We want to have everything and trying to chase after everything we lay hold of nothing. We become so caught up with our multi-tasking that life passes us by, we neglect important relationships and we get none of our needs met. Things start to unravel around us and then we discover that we have become someone that we never meant to be, someone who we really don’t like much.
Moses tells the people of Israel today that it really isn’t all that complicated. We have really made it more difficult than it needs to be. “For this command that I enjoin on you today is not too mysterious and remote for you. It is not up in the sky, that you should say, ‘Who will go up in the sky to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’ Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’ No, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out.” Just do it. Take care of the little things day by day and be faithful to what is close at hand and the other things will work themselves out. The secret to true joy in your life is not in winning the next lotto, getting the right house or car, finding a new job or some other elusive treasure. True joy can be found in paying attention to what you have been given, your family and friends. Quit trying to change everything and control everything and begin to appreciate the beauty and gift that has been laid in your lap.
Jesus teaches us in the story of the Good Samaritan to see things in a new way. Our neighbor is the person that is near to us, that needs our help, often someone in our own family, sometimes a stranger or someone from a different culture. When we are a good neighbor then we will recognize all people as our neighbors. We need to open our eyes and see the needs of those who are near to us. We need to open our hearts and include more people into our family. Life isn’t as difficult when we begin to use the resources and gifts that God has placed within our grasp. Let your heart be “moved with compassion,” let your soul be touched by those around you and then carry out the work of love and you will be on your way to eternal life.