“But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus,
‘And who is my neighbor?’
‘...Which of these three, in your opinion,
was neighbor to the robbers' victim?’
He answered, ‘The one who treated him with mercy.’
Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’”
The scholar of the law, likely a Scribe, puts it all down on the table, “Love God and love neighbor.” He risks everything, an all demanding response, but seeing the potential for loss, the possible cost of love, he hedges his bet, “And who is my neighbor?” For Jesus, it is not only the wrong question, but reveals the deeper hesitation to go all in. It reveals the self concern and self reference within all of our hearts. We seek to limit our obligations based on the definition of the other: just give me a rule to follow. As we hear in the first reading, the law isn’t out there somewhere, defined by exterior expectations and behaviors, but within our very hearts. Transformation, not conformation, is the path to inherit eternal life.