When Jewish psychiatrist Viktor Frankl was arrested by the Nazis in World War II and put in Auschwitz, the infamous death camp, he was stripped of everything: property, family, possessions, and a manuscript he had spent years researching and writing on finding meaning in life. The manuscript had been sewn into the lining of his coat. "Now it seemed as if nothing and no one would survive me; neither a physical nor a spiritual child of my own," Frankl wrote. "I found myself confronted with the question of whether under such circumstances my life was ultimately void of any meaning."
A few days later, the Nazis forced the prisoners to give up what little clothing they still wore. "I had to surrender my clothes and in turn inherited the worn-out rags of an inmate who had been sent to the gas chamber," said Frankl. "Instead of the many pages of my manuscript, I found in the pocket of the newly acquired coat a single page torn out of a Hebrew prayer book, which contained the Jewish prayer 'Shema Yisrael' (Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one God. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.)
"How should I have interpreted such a 'coincidence' other than as a challenge to 'live' my thoughts instead of merely putting them on paper?" Frankl later reflected on his ordeal in Man's Search for Meaning, saying, "There is nothing in the world that would so effectively help one to survive even the worst conditions, as the knowledge that there is meaning in one's life.... He who has a 'why' to live for, can bear almost any 'how.' "
The children of Israel left Egypt and lived in exile for forty years, making a journey that ordinarily should have taken 7 months, were suddenly confronted with the concept of living permanently in a land of their own. Except of course, at the beginning it wasn't there own land yet, they had to conquer it. But to live in community, static rather than nomadic required laws to ensure that some form of society existed. As they journeyed and journeyed more and more laws were adopted to fit every circumstance, and then to assert control when they actually moved in, the ruling classes asserted more and more stringency to each law. Suddenly the minutae of laws became important and therefore more and more control by the few in the name of God. Everything written down in minute detail.
Jesus preached against this, using God's name in this way, and indeed we can see from the questions and answers of the scribes others were thinking long similar lines. Jesus is asked the question, his answer is a question, the lawyer wants then to justify himself and asks the question of who is thy neighbour? Who should I love, care for? Jesus’ response is the parable of the Good Samaritan. To understand this properly, you have to go to phobia’s. Homophobia, racism, anti-semitism- all the nasty evil devices used by so many to make them feel better by selecting a part of society to ostracise. To get the power of the Good Samaritan parable, it is the equivalent of homophobic man being treated by a gay man. Goebbels being saved by a Jewish survivor of Aushwitz. That is the parable. Samaritans were feared, despised, rejected. It was racism. And then in the parable we have the good people, not loving, not caring. The priest who hurries to get to worship but ignores the wounded on the side of the road. One has understanding for the priest, people won't understand, he may lose his job, but actually in the larger scale of things how does one live out the worship of the heart? Singing hymns of praise, is not remembering the cross of Christ, living out that love is how we remember it, and then we sing hymns of praise. Once more as in Jesus's day we are getting hooked up in the quantifiable outputs of what we do. No longer is the priest of the community to simply help others, now because of economics and efficiency we have to demonstrate our effectiveness, a business model of how what we do achieves tangible results on a Sunday morning. Who comes to church? are we growing and if not why not? Do we need to be put into special measures? And actually most of our faith cannot be measured in that way, we are sowing seeds, others may reap. This is the problem Jesus confronted, people worrying about the end result, the final figures, how many burnt offerings, no thought of actually getting back to what the original laws were designed for. Love is our mission, but somehow in the midst of trying to get that right we have made love a business and have brought in rules and KPI’s to ensure we can pay for the business of love. This is the hypocrisy that Jesus was condemning and quite often people see in us. Don't make our faith complicated, love God, love our neighbours, whoever they maybe, all the laws try and help us fulfill the two laws; By putting things on paper, by making laws, by trying to formalise, we soon settle for that as our reason for living. The checklist of things done and not done, rather than actually simply getting on with living which can be very simple. Once we have a grasp of why, which of course is simply love, then we cope with the how, how do we that, well - we just let our lives be ruled by our hearts. We can’t analyse taking us away from the basic tenements of faith, shema yisrael. Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one God. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.The End.