Today’s Gospel Reading: Mark 12:28-34 – 3rd WEEK OF LENT: Friday, 29 March 2019
“You are not far from the Kingdom of God” (Mark 2:34). It’s hard to say what the scribe thought when Jesus spoke these words to him. On the other hand, we know for sure what we would think if we were to hear Jesus speak these words to us. We’d be thrilled! Isn’t that what we want – to be close to God? Isn’t the goal of our lives to enter God’s Kingdom and live with Him forever? Don’t we all yearn for assurance that our faith is taking us there? Of course we do!
Jesus told the scribe that the heart of faith – that which will take us straight into the presence of God – is nothing more, and nothing less, than love: love of God and love of neighbor. All the other commandments of God flow from these two, and as we experiment in putting these two commands into practice, we find ourselves increasingly following all the others.
Jesus commissioned His disciples to do many things: preach the Gospel, cure the sick, raise the dead, feed the hungry. But perhaps His most challenging command was to “love one another, even as I have loved you” (John 13:34). In order to love as Jesus loved, we need to be filled with His Spirit. Similarly, in order to love God as we are called, we need the Holy Spirit to lift us up and fill us with His love. Isn’t it encouraging to know that whenever you don’t feel capable or strong enough to fulfill this dual calling, you can cry out to the Holy Spirit for strength? Isn’t it heartening that whenever you are in doubt as to how to love in a specific situation, you can ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom, and He will give it to you?
It is indescribably rewarding to love as Jesus did. All the blessings of life in the Kingdom of God – peace, joy, and fulfillment – flow into our hearts. But even more than these beautiful graces, we experience a closeness to Jesus Himself that words cannot express. He fills our hearts with divine life and raises us up to His very own presence. It is truly a privilege to be “not far” from the Kingdom of God!
Jakarta, 29 March 2019
A Christian Pilgrim