Our Lord And Saviour Is So Close To Us!
Readings: (1st: Deut 30, 10-14; Ps: 68, 14. 30-37; 2nd: Col 6, 1, 15-20 Gos: Lk 10, 25-37)
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers, Province of Nigeria South East. He is currently the Parochial Vicar of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church Woliwo Onitsha, Anambra State, Nigeria. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, Phone: +23408063767512, +23408024942843
Often times we are lost in the search for what is so close to us in distant places. Hence, one of Nigeria’s popular and accomplished artist Onyeka Owenu, in one of her album sang: “Wetin dey for Sokoto i dey for shokoto!” Apparently, what she means here is that things can be so close to us, yet we look for them in distant places. On this 15th Sunday of Ordinary time therefore, we are invited to laud and celebrate the closeness of our Lord to us. As the word of God, the image of the unseen God and as the Good Samaritan, our Lord and God is so close to us, ministering to our body and soul in all situations.
As a child, I grew up thinking and somehow convinced that “Israel” and “Jerusalem” were in “Heaven.” That is, somewhere above the sky. In order words, that geographically speaking they were not to be located anywhere in this world or planet earth of ours. I am sure so many other children felt this way too. This could perhaps be due to the way we were taught Christian Religious Knowledge (CRK) in school then. However, as I grew older and as things began to change, I began to hear people talk about visiting Israel or Jerusalem (the Holy Land), and most places we read about in the Scriptures. In fact, I gradually came to realize that Israel is in this planet earth, that it can be visited, and that it is close and within reach. Of interest also, is the fact that I noticed that some people attached “JP” after writing their names, for example, “Mr. Been-to, JP”. On inquiry I found out that it means Jerusalem Pilgrim. That is, someone who has been to Jerusalem on pilgrimage.
The first reading of today awakens in us the consciousness of the nearness of our God to us. For the Jews the Torah (Law) is synonymous to Yahweh. So sacred is it that they find God in every letter of it. Hence, Moses reminds us of God’s closeness to us through his word: “… For this law…is not beyond your strength or beyond your reach. It is not in heaven so that you need to wonder, who will go up to heaven to bring it down to us…?” Therefore, God is so close to us with his hands wide open and ready for us to tap from his abundant resources of grace and love. If only we can patiently seek him, he will revive our forlorn soul when we find him. We must therefore seek him in the scriptures by asking the Holy Spirit to enlighten the eyes of our mind, so as to obey his ordinances. The word of God is God himself. Often times, we are ignorant of this fact to the extent that even in difficult moments, we do not know what to do or how to wriggle out of them. God has concealed himself in his word, and only those who make frantic efforts will find him. This is why the Psalmist admonishes us today: “Seek the Lord, you who are poor, and your hearts will revive.” If we must achieve intimacy with the Lord, we must devour the word of God. The prophet Jeremiah knew this secret and hence vehemently says to God: “When your words came, I devoured them…” (15, 16).” The key to fullness of life therefore, is close to, and with us. In the second reading, Paul yet brings God closer to us. God in, and through Jesus came to dwell among us spiritually and personally. First God spoke his word and it became real to us in the person and presence of Christ. In this reading, Paul draws our attention as the evangelist John (1, 1-14) did, to the fact that God decided to dwell with us in the person of Jesus Christ – the word made flesh himself. Hence he writes: “Christ is the Image of the unseen God…Before anything was created, he existed, and he holds all things in unity.
In the gospel Jesus directs the lawyer to the scriptures. In doing this, Jesus tries to let him understand that, God could be found in his word which is close to him. To love God therefore is to love his word. He further buttressed this by telling the story of the Good Samaritan. The word of God is personified in the Good Samaritan in today’s gospel. The word of God is Jesus himself, who speaks to us, Jesus who is ever close to us and like the Good Samaritan, is ever ready to apply soothing balm on our injured souls. Jesus, the word of God made flesh is so close to us in all times and ages. He never departs from us or goes on leave. Even if he does, like a faithful husband, he takes us, his bride with him. However, owing to our culpable ignorance of this fact, we stray most times. But it is often said that: Ignorance is no excuse”, while St. Jerome tells us that: “Ignorance of the scriptures is ignorance of God.” We search for him only in big mansions, big churches, in popular people, in sophistic prosperity and miracle preachers, top government officials, big cities etcetera. Yet, as a humble Lord, he makes himself available to us in things that are so lowly and close to us. He is in the scriptures, in the poor, in the just, in the pious, in the marginalized, in the sick, and in the victims of unjust structures.
Like the Good Samaritan, if we search for him in these we will find him. If we can spare some of our precious minutes in seeking him, we shall discover that he is so close to us. God is so close to us in our neighbours and those around us. The Good Samaritan here has a dual personality. Not only does he represent those who find Christ in the weak, wounded, poor, and in the scriptures. He also represents Christ who himself as a Good Samaritan per excellence is so close to us who aids us in our journey of life especially, during our forlorn moments and when we have become brown-beaten in our harsh world. He is quick to come to us when we are weak, despised and abandoned. He is ever ready to help us recuperate from our injured nature and he is so close to offset the cost of our spiritual overhauling. Little wonder the Psalmist asks: “…What great nation is there that has gods so close to it as the LORD, our God….?” (Deut 4, 7).
Peace be with you all!