St. Paul said, "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me."
That mystifies me. At what point in one's spiritual development can one declare such a supernatural thing? I do feel sure, however, that to get there on that narrow road, one must never say, "Enough."
In one of the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) classes that I was "helping with" (translate that to mean that I was learning wonderful and mysterious things about our relationship with Christ, with each other) this past spring, the co-leader and I were discussing discernment - how eventually you get to the point where you can see when Satan is trying to get you off course, distract you, immobilize you. The co-leader and I were nodding our heads vigorously in agreement with each other when she said something very wise. She said sometimes the way he distracts you is with the simple whisper of, Enough. You've done enough. You deserve a break. That must be the cleverest, most subtle approach, one to which we are all susceptible.
In the gospel reading (Luke 10:25-37) at Mass today, a young lawyer approaches Jesus, and after confirming that the greatest commandment in the law is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, being, strength and mind and to love your neighbor as yourself, he asks Christ to tell him who his neighbor is - wishing to justify himself, the gospel says. He was hoping to narrow it down, perhaps, to the guy next door, to people of similar social standing, to merely the Jewish people at least - to avoid too much trouble or putting himself at risk. Jesus tells him the story of the man on the road to Jericho, how he was robbed and beaten, left half-dead by the road. A priest and a Levite came that way and passed around the other side, avoiding, but a good Samaritan stopped and helped the man, bound his wounds and took him to an inn where he paid for him to stay until he recovered.
Jesus asked, "Who of the three was neighbor to the robber's victim?"
And it is clear. There is no saying, But that can be interpreted in so many ways....
The lawyer said, "The one who treated him with mercy."
Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."
Our priest in his homily today said that a Christian cannot hope to merely get by with the Old Testament law, Thou Shalt Not; we have the law of Christ which is much more. It is the law of the New Covenant, the You must do with love and service and selflessness, the law of taking up your cross daily and following Him. We cannot hope to be God's children merely by avoiding sin and being decent to family. There is a reason the greatest commandment is two, the first to love God above everything and the second to love your fellow human beings, whom He created in His likeness, as yourself. The world is open before us, full of neighbors whom we must serve when we can. And we do not get to say enough, or charity stops here! As Fr. Bill said today, "Not what we have to do, but what we can do...which is limitless."
And the Holy Spirit gives us courage not to be discouraged by our sins in what we have done and what we have failed to do, not to use them as an excuse to give up and to stop trying to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect. No. We seek the strength and encouragement to fight our own proclivities, to keep striving to be like the good Samaritan, that good neighbor on the road to Jericho.