"You are not far from the kingdom of God." What does it mean to be close to God's kingdom? In today's Gospel, Jesus is in a dialogue with teachers of the law. They know well the Law of Moses, with its complex codes, expectations,and punishments. What will Jesus say?"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength ... You shall love your neighbor as yourself."Jesus effortlessly distills all the books of law into two commands. The simplicity of the Gospel message doesn't mean it's easy to follow. Far from it! The simplicity of the Gospel indicates its totality. Anything that requires the passions of our heart, the choice of our soul, the reason in our mind, or the strength of our body - all of this ought to be animated by love. As you can imagine, that means pretty much everything! The love of God and love of neighbor is meant to flow into our entire lives.
The Gospel can appear complicated because life is complicated. Not ever y outcast is easy to love. We lack the knowledge or compassion to heal everyone who suffers. Personal sacrifice is not always noticed or valued. In the face of the unknown, fear can be easier than faith. Life's circumstances can seem like obstacles to God's love, not opportunities. And yet Jesus' command still stands. As you reflect this week, examine those areas where it's easy to love. Thank God for them! But take some time to consider the people and circumstances that challenge you. Ask God to show you what it means to love there. How is He inviting you to enlarge your heart, strengthen your soul, open your mind, and persevere in your strength? How is He inviting you to love?READ MORE
"Son of David, have pity on me!" Has the cry of Bartimaeus ever escaped your lips? Today's Gospel tells the story of a blind man with a difficult lot in life. He made a living by begging coins off passing travelers. When word reaches him that Jesus will be passing by, this is when he begins is shouts for mercy. Jesus hears Bartimaeus' cry and beckons him forward.READ MORE
"What do you wish me to do for you?" Jesus asks a similar question in different Gospel passages, but the request of James and John is not repeated on any other occasion. "Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left." They ask not for knowledge of God, not for crooked limbs to be straightened nor for the blind to see. They ask for power and authority. Jesus' response should trouble them. "You do not know what you are asking."READ MORE
Christian author C.S. Lewis once wrote that Christianity is not so much about being nice people but in being "new men." We see this contrast in today's Gospel. "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus first answers in the predictable way. Follow the commandments! "Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth."READ MORE
"Whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it." This verse is part of a beautiful reflection on childlike faith. We're reminded of the innocence of children, how eager they are to experience life and how quick they are to trust. Rarely do we hear it with the story that immediately proceeds it. The Pharisees question Jesus on the lawfulness of divorce! Hardly the sort of thorny moral conversation one typically has in front of children. Yet here we are. Jesus' response goes further back then the Mosaic law.READ MORE