“You are not far from the Kingdom of God!”
I had a teacher in seminary who used to say that to people whenever they had a really insightful comment or answer in class. And it is that insight that we are all being called to in today’s readings. In the reading from Hosea, God tells the people that they need to understand that he is their salvation. Salvation for them is not going to come through alliances with Assyria or any other fickle foreign power, nor will that salvation come through the worship of pagan idols. Who then will help them? “I will heal their defection, says the LORD, I will love them freely.”
The value here is that God alone is all we need to provide us with all we need. Our response to that has to be complete devotion to God. The scribe figured this out in today’s Gospel reading. Listen to him again: “God 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.”
Perhaps during these Lenten days, we too can come to an understanding that loving God and neighbor is what should consume our every thought. When we get there, we can hear the same words of encouragement as did the scribe: “You are not far from the Kingdom of God!”