From the Pastor – November 4, 2012

The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher, you are right in saying, ”˜He is One and there is no other than He.’ And ”˜to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself’ is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And no one dared to ask him any more questions. (Mk 12:32-34)

This weekend’s Gospel contains a beautiful conversation between a scribe and Jesus about the most important things of our faith: love of God and love of neighbor. The scribe listens to Jesus and agrees that love of God and neighbor “is worth more than any burnt offering or sacrifice.” And Jesus tells the scribe: “You are not far from the reign of God.” That’s the part that’s a little troubling, and should have been for the scribe. Not far? Not far? Excuse me but I don’t think that we want to be simply close to the kingdom of God! We want to be part of the kingdom of God. We want to be in the kingdom of God. Why do these commandments only get us “close” to the reign of God? Well, there’s the difference between knowing and doing.

The biggest criticism that Jesus ever gave anyone was to call him a hypocrite. The word hypocrite is from the Greek word ὑποκρίτης (hypokritÄ“s), which means “play actor,” “dissembler” or “coward.” Hypocrisy is the practice of professing beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not hold or possess.

Knowing the Gospel of Christ and Church teachings can get us close to the kingdom of God, but only living those values can get us in. Wisdom in knowing the law brings us close, but our salvation is found in following the law.

This coming week we have elections that will determine the future of our city, state and country. While all politicians might think they have the best ideas for how to provide for the poor, how to create jobs and how to protect our country from enemies, we have to remember that there are certain issues that are non-negotiable in the eyes of God. God gave us life; it is sacred, even in the womb. God gave us the freedom to worship Him; that freedom does not come from the government. And God gave us human sexuality that is ordered toward the unity of husband and wife and the procreation of children, not to hedonism and personal pleasure. Knowing the wisdom of God – written on our hearts – gets us close to the kingdom. But only living those values gets us in.

Rev. Msgr. Christopher H. Nalty