The message of the Gospel is not about obeying the Law. Jesus clearly shows this in his parable of the Good Samaritan. The priest and levite were obeying the Law by staying away from a dead person when they avoided the man who was left half dead. They think that holiness is about keeping themselves ritually clean. Jesus then tells them of the Samaritan who took pity on the man and nursed him and brought him to an inn and paid for the expenses to nurture the man back.
The parable of the Good Samaritan shows the priest and levite obeyed the law of not contaminating themselves so they can serve at the Temple. By giving this parable, Jesus was condemning the strict observance of the letter of the Law. While Temple worship was supposed to be towards worship of God, the blind obedience to the Law at the expense of the injured human being, makes the Law the idol. If we follow our own ideas, desires, rituals, and even mistaken interpretation of Scripture, we make these into gods. They become our idol. For the priest and the levite, the letter of the Law became the idol. Some think Christianity is about serving the poor, or Christianity is about “loving” people by not hurting the feelings of others. This thinking has become an idol.
Christianity is not about works, or ideas, or rituals. Christianity is about an encounter with Jesus Christ which according to Pope Benedict XVI gives a new horizon and a decisive direction. Christianity is about an encounter with Jesus Christ that transforms us so we can live holy lives.
St Paul was clear about this: if we or an angel from heaven should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to what we proclaimed to you, let that one be accursed. To stress this further, Paul repeats this a second time in his letter. The Gospel is about an encounter with Jesus, who died and rose again, that transforms our lives to a movement towards Jesus. This calls for repentance, a turning back to Christ, so we can open our lives and allow him to transform us. This is achieved by grace, God’s favor rather than by anything we do.
Lord, teach me to believe that salvation is in repentance and obedience to you. Let me not be led astray to believe that I am saved because I follow something. Instead, let me understand that I am saved, because I follow YOU, Jesus Christ my Lord.