Thursday of the Ninth Week of the Year

2Tm 2:8-15; Ps 25:4-5ab,8-10,14; Mk 12: 28-34

The friendship of the LORD is the Kingdom of God.  The LORD makes known to us his ways, and he teaches us his paths.  Indeed, our Savior teaches us his truth and guides us in the ways to live in that truth.  This saving action of the LORD Our God reveals his identity, and it reveals the truth of our need, our absolute need, for a savior.  The LORD is good and upright; He shows sinners the way.  Why would he not show the righteous the way?  Why does he show such favor to the sinners?  The righteous already knows the way; it is the sinners who need to learn the way.  As our Lord Jesus, the Divine Physician, explains to us, I have come for the sick and the sinner; they are the ones who need the doctor of the body and the soul.   It is the sinner who is humble who is willing and able to receive the guidance of the LORD in the ways of justice.  Without this fundamental conversion there is no progress along the ways of holiness.  Humility is the first rung on the latter into heaven.  No one comes any closer to the Kingdom of God without first being humble enough to receive: guidance, teaching, or wisdom.  As our beloved Saint Paul explains to Saint Timothy, the Word of God is not chained, rather it breaks the chains of sin and evil in our lives.  Anyone humble enough to accept this wisdom of God as an unmerited gift is not far from the Kingdom of God.  Indeed, our mass today is a summons from on high to each of us: “receive the Wisdom of God, The Incarnate Word of God, the body, blood, soul and divinity of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ.”  Indeed, we are not far from the Kingdom of God, because where the king lives there is the kingdom.

Saint Paul is in chains, but the gospel he preached about Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David, is not in chains.  He is in chains but the Word of God is not chained.  This word is safe in the hearts of those who believe. It is securely hidden and manifest in the life style of anyone who professes the Apostles’ Creed.  Like a loving mother and a sacrificial father, Saint Paul bears with anything for the sake of those who are chosen.  Indeed, he longs for the salvation and eternal glory of all he serves in love.  Saint Paul places complete trust in his experience of sharing the death and the resurrection of The Christ.  It is no longer Saint Paul who lives; it is Christ who lives in him.  Likewise this is our own identity, hidden with Christ in God.  If we deny him he will deny us.  The LORD Our God still loves us, even if we deny him.  However, he will not publicly claim us if we publicly deny him.  Such a denial like that of two of the Twelve is a possibility for any disciple of the Lord Jesus.  We are free, and our freedom abounds when we surrender more and more completely.  We are free in the freedom of the Son of God.  He never even desired to rebel against his Father.  From eternity The Son is obedient.  When we are eager to present ourselves to God, as a workman who causes no disgrace, then and only then will we be imparting the word of truth without deviation.

 Can there be any better news?  Who would not want the Lord Jesus to say, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”  Indeed, we are not far because the Kingdom is within us.  The Kingdom is within all who strive to obey the first of all the commandments.  This commandment is reminiscent of the first commandment in the Decalogue, “I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.  Thou shalt not have strange gods before me.”  Indeed, to obey this commandment is to obey all the commandments of the LORD.  To disobey any commandment is to place some other god before us.  Indeed, we cannot even love our neighbors, as we ought, if we do not love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.  Loving the LORD is a necessary prerequisite for loving our neighbor.  We cannot love our neighbor unless our love for the LORD is secure and transforming us from glory to glory.  Without the merciful and compassionate love of God within us we will try to use anyone and everyone to build up our fragile ego.  Then we exhaust ourselves in trying to prove our worth and secure our dignity something we cannot give ourselves, something only the LORD God can give us.  When the LORD reigns within us and his Kingdom has been established in our hearts, we have no fear of rejection.  Indeed, we love ourselves unconditionally, even as the LORD loves us.  Out of such a peaceful heart we can love even our enemies, then will the Kingdom of God be fully and finally present.