YOU ARE NOT FAR FROM THE KINGDOM OF GOD|31st Sunday|Year B

You could be near your destination but not reach it! You could be 'near the kingdom of God' but not enter it! Hence the adage "nearly" cannot kill a bird! 'Nearly' or 'almost' is the line of demarcation which one must crossover to achieve success or reach the desired goal. You can't nearly or almost achieve success because at the end it does not count. Therefore don't be satisfied with simply getting to the line, but not crossing over.

When Jesus told the scribe that he was 'not far from the kingdom of God', he didn't imply that the scribe was in the kingdom already, something more was needed, what is it? Certain things happen to you that make you ask: why am I always close to success, but never achieving it? To clear your doubts, continue reading slowly...

Mark 12:28-34

One of the scribes came up to Jesus and put a question to him, ‘Which is the first of all the commandments?’ Jesus replied, ‘This is the first: Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You must love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.’ The scribe said to him, ‘Well spoken, Master; what you have said is true: that he is one and there is no other. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself, this is far more important than any holocaust or sacrifice.’ Jesus, seeing how wisely he had spoken, said, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ And after that no one dared to question him any more.

POINTS FOR REFLECTION

1. Child of God, scripture tells us that Jesus commended the Scribe with the words 'you are not far from the kingdom of God' because he spoke wisely. Because he went a step further to state that obeying the commandment of love is more important than burnt offerings and sacrifices. Yet, he is close and still missing something. Isn't that worrisome?

2. What the Scribe lacks is the new commandment Jesus would give when he says: 

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (Jn 13:34-35)

Loving your neighbour as yourself is one level of love, where love of one's self is the standard. This is problematic because many don't even love themselves; and you can't give what you don't have. Hence, loving others as Jesus (God) loves you is a higher level of love that eradicates all reasons for not loving others. This new commandment of Jesus creates in us a special identity among men- we become his disciples! This is what the Scribe lacks! He knew the truth, spoke the truth with wisdom, but did he live it out or have a concrete experience of that knowledge? He didn't come to be a disciple of Jesus but only came to ask a question.

3. Many today are like this Scribe. They know much about the Christian faith but don't live it out and hence benefit little or nothing from the knowledge. Knowledge is power but a dormant knowledge (inability to put knowledge to use) is as useless as ignorance! They know the 'powerful Christian prayers' but are in bondage and demonic manipulations, because they don't pray well or are lazy to pray. Knowing about God isn't enough, are you truly a believer (a disciple) and living like a disciple. Jesus says, very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even things than these... (Jn 14:12). 

4Remember once more, the Scribe was not commended by Jesus because he prays for long hours, paid his tithes or gave huge offerings (even though these are also required), but because he acknowledged that God desires first of all, love and not sacrifices (Hos 6:6). If by knowing alone, he was commended as 'not far from the kingdom of God', imagine what will happen if we put in practice what we know?

TASK: Make efforts today to put into practice all the knowledge you have acquired in the Christian faith, that you may ENTER the Kingdom of God. Pray Psalm 18:1-4, 28-29, 49-50 now declaring your love for God and asking Him to give you power to overcome your weakness and daily challenges.

I pray for you: May the Lord God, our rock and strength arm your hands for battle and give you the strength of an overcome in Jesus name. AMEN.

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