Homily (Reflection) for Friday of the Third Week of Lent (4th March, 2016) on the Gospel
Hos 14:2-10;Ps 80:6.8-11.14.17. (R. vv. 9.11);
Topic: Although not far.
A scribe asked Jesus in today’s gospel, “Which commandment is the first of all?” In reply Jesus quoted the books of Deuteronomy and Leviticus, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (cf. Deut 6:4-5). He goes further, “The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’” (cf. Lev 19:18; 19:34). The scribe agreed with Jesus. And finally, Jesus said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”
The scribe was neither far from the kingdom of God nor inside it. In Saint Paul’s letter to the Romans we read, “it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified” (Rom 2:13). Again, the letter of Saint James exhorts us,
But be doers of the word, and not mere hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like (Jas 1:22-24).
We also read in the gospel, “you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (Jn 8:32). The scribe was not far because he had known the truth and was truly free to choose life or death, blessing or curse, cf. Deut 30:19. Knowledge can only bring one near to the kingdom of God but action is required to be inside. Whoever wants to be inside must love God with all his/her heart, soul, mind, and strength and also love his/her neighbour as him/herself.
Bible Reading: Jas 1:19-27.
Thought for today: Near or inside the kingdom of God?
Let us pray: Lord, help us not to be near to your kingdom but to be inside it – Amen.
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