The Perspective of Justice

Living Image

God’s law is not so mysterious and remote; it is not up in the sky or across the sea, but is already in our mouths and hearts. And what is that law? To love God with everything we have, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

We have difficulty loving God because we live in a world “filled with lights contrary to” the light of God’s truth. “The Lord hears the poor,” but our world scorns the poor. Our God makes “peace through the blood of his cross” while our world tries to make peace through the blood of soldiers and innocent civilians.

We have difficulty loving our neighbor because we do not understand “neighbor” as Jesus did. Neighbor for us means people we like, people who are on our side, who work for a living, and who mind their own business. Jesus redefines neighbor as the hated stranger who is down and out, challenging us to stop what we are doing and care for his need.

The priest in the Gospel may have been going to the temple to worship God. Jesus is teaching his followers to see the ditch as God’s dwelling place: to love neighbor as defined by Jesus is to love God.

One’s neighbor is not only a human being with his or her own rights and a fundamental equality with everyone else, but becomes the living image of God the Father, redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ and placed under the permanent action of the Holy Spirit. One’s neighbor must therefore be loved, even if an enemy, with the same love with which the Lord loves him or her.

Pope John Paul II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 1987: 40

Gerald Darring

Now published in book form, To Love and Serve: Lectionary Based Meditations, by Gerald Darring This entire three year cycle is available at


**From Saint Louis University

Kristin Clauson