“You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”

Today we have the unusual situation of a religious leader actually commending Jesus for His words (Mk 12:28-34).  A scribe asks Jesus what the first commandment is.  Jesus replies with the Shema from Deuteronomy 6 (there is only one God and he should be loved with one’s whole being) to which He attaches a second commandment from  Leviticus 19 (“You shall love your neighbor as yourself).  The scribe elaborates that Jesus’ first commandment “is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” (v. 33)  Jesus approves of this insight and closes His remarks with the headline above.  We should earnestly wish that Jesus is saying the same thing to us.  In the reading, the scribe, a professional interpreter of the Law in the synagogue, and thus knowledgeable in both oral tradition and written tradition, is interested in Jesus’ interpretation of the Law.  Jesus clearly finds this man to have a deep understanding of His area of expertise.  If it was important for Jesus’ interlocutor to know and understand scripture and tradition, should it be any less true for us?  Just as the Jews rely on both, so are we blessed to have traditions passed down in oral an written form, safeguarded by the teaching authority of the Church.  In our day, we have little excuse for not being familiar with the Word of God and the teachings of Mother Church.  How can we be close to the Kingdom if we have no familiarity with the road map that let’s us know how to get there?  Starting with, or going back to, the Bible and the Catechism, will open up the riches of the Kingdom to all who seek it with a sincere heart.

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