Thursday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time


The scribe said to him, "Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, He is One and there is no other than he….  And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding, he said to him, "You are not far from the Kingdom of God."

Our gospel selections throughout the Easter Season were from the Gospel according to Saint John, a gospel of crisis. Saint John’s Jesus continually challenges his disciples and his contemporaries to accept him as the only begotten Son of God, the Word made flesh. Before his resurrection his most faithful disciples take him at his word despite their incomprehension. His opponents refuse to accept him. There is no middle ground between opponents and disciples; crisis demands an immediate decision.

Like John, the Gospel of Saint Mark  challenges its hearers; but, as in today’s story, Mark’s  Jesus can recognize someone who is making progress toward faith. “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” he says.

This Jewish scribe has the right spirit. He can recognize wisdom and authority; he knows when his challenge has been met and bested.

This story is from the twelfth chapter of Saint Mark and there are only sixteen chapters; we are rapidly approaching the Cenacle, Calvary and the crypt. But even in the heat of conflict, after Jesus’ parable of the killing of the vineyard owner’s son and before his denunciation of the scribes,  these honest opponents can recognize their mutual integrity: “Well said!” and “You are not far!” they say.

Cooler heads are calling today for dialogue between conservatives and liberals in government and church. There are good insights and real grievances on all sides and we do well to listen to them.

I find, as I live in a community of Franciscan friars, if I begin counting all I do for the community and then all they do for me, I become suspicious and resentful. But if I first count all they do for me and then count what I do for them, I am grateful.  I must enter this conversation aware of my own attitudes.

Jesus, throughout the New Testament, is described as a man who is self-possessed. Even his angry ejection of the merchants from the temple is a prophetic gesture, not an irrational outburst for which he must later apologize. He can loudly denounce the pretentious in one moment; and in the next, quietly admire the humble, as we will hear in Saturday’s gospel. He does not lose his inner calm; he remains always docile in the Holy Spirit.

We must ask him to give us that same Spirit in all our dealings.  

1 comment:

  1. In reading and hearing this Gospel, I am struck with the common ground that the scribe and Jesus have. They both recite the basic Jewish prayer, the Shema, recognizing that the relationship with God and others "is worth more than all offerings and sacrifices ". Perhaps conservatives and liberals in the political and church arenas could start and focus on the common ground too. Like you in community, when we can see the common ground of the other first, we can understand and appreciate the opposing attitudes.




I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

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