Gospel: Lk 11:27-28
As Jesus was speaking, a woman spoke from the crowd and said to him, “Blessed is the one who gave you birth and nursed you!” Jesus replied, “Truly blessed are those who hear the word of God, and keep it as well.”
At the time of Jesus the pious and well-meaning Jews imagined God acting more or less like an accountant. In a kind of celestial ledger, God entered all your good deeds and acts of obedience to the 613 prescriptions of the Mosaic Law (248 precepts and 365 prohibitions), but also all your sins. Then, when you died, God would draw the line under each column and add up good deeds and sins. If your good deeds outnumbered your sins, you went to Heaven. If your sins outnumbered your good deeds, you went to Hell. It was all a matter of strict justice.
Jesus rejected this way of thinking. God is not a heartless accountant, he protested. God is a Father. The only thing needed to be saved is to believe in the Father’s love and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
The preceding considerations form the background of today’s first reading and of the whole Letter to the Galatians. Paul’s opponents insist that one must obey the Mosaic Law in order to be saved (they preach the accountant God). Paul vigorously opposes them and repeats Christ’s teaching: what saves us is to believe that God is a loving Father, and to love our neighbor.