18th Sunday of the Year (B) 2018

“Then they said to him, What must we do to perform the works of God?”
Mk. 10. “As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life”
Lk. 10. “Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. Teacher, he said, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Lk 18. “An official asked him this question, Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
A man asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
Mtt. 19. “Now someone approached him and said, Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?”
Notice, all have asked to do something that will guarantee them Eternal Life.
In the Old Testament the Jewish religion was all about obeying the Law (religious laws and regulations). Up to quite recently our Church was largely about obeying the Law: be baptised as an infant, receive first Holy Communion, go to Confession, receive Confirmation, get Married in church, be Anointed before you died, be buried in the Catholic section of the graveyard, attend Mass every Sunday, perform your Easter duties, support the church financially etc.
This attitude enables me to be a ‘good’ Jew or a ‘good’ christian while in other respects I can be a pain.
As Jesus said; ‘Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You pay tithes of mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier things of the law: justice and mercy and fidelity. (But) these you should have done, without neglecting the others. Blind guides, who strain out the gnat and swallow the camel! Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You cleanse the outside of cup and dish, but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may be clean.’
What is the problem here?
Let’s take an example. I can have a totally clean record as far as the police, government and church are concerned. I have never broken any law or regulation. And yet I can be an abusive marriage partner, an uncaring parent, a very difficult employer or employee, a mean and unhelpful neighbour etc. Jesus of Nazareth is upbraiding the Scribes and Pharisees because although they were totally law abiding they were without generosity, forgiveness, compassion, tolerance, and love.
I must take these words to heart because they may be applicable to me also, at least some of the time.
The Old Testament was about doing certain things which hopefully would persuade God to give me Eternal Life.
The New Testament is about living in a certain way in response to – in gratitude for – having been already offered and accepting the gift of Eternal Life.
Is my religion Old Testament or New Testament?