You Are Not Far From the Kingdom of God

Deacon Bob Hart

In the gospel this morning when asked by the scribe what the most important commandment was, Jesus quotes from scripture the two great commandments; love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. And the second; to love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus says there are no greater commandments than these.

Together these two commandments summarize the Ten Commandments. And the link between these two great commandments is important to understand. To love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

We love ourselves by loving God with all we have and all we are. God is what our hearts yearn for. That kind of love is the most important thing in the world for our well-being. Loving God with everything is what gives us the ultimate peace, joy and hope in our life. Loving God is the absolute best thing that we could possibly do for ourselves.

If we look around our country, our world today, and ask the question “how are we all doing with living out the two great commandments right now.” It is pretty obvious that our world needs help. Because if humanity is really loving God as we should be and really loving ourselves as we should be, then loving our neighbors shouldn’t be that difficult.

But it is. It is for all of us. And sometimes it is more difficult than others. And just as Jesus quoted from scripture in this gospel, Sacred Scripture, God’ word, has the answers we need.

We hear in scripture how God created us in his own image, in his own likeness. And he made all of us to reflect his image. Think about what we know about the image of God. He is all powerful, he is perfect mercy, he is perfect justice.  He is pure love itself. And we are created, to the best of our ability to reflect that same image.

Our culture, our society is wrong when it tells us that in order to be somebody, we have to be muscular or weigh this much, that we have to dress this way, or that we have to have so many followers on our social media. Or that we are only as good as how intelligent we are.

Scripture tells us that we are all good, that we are somebody, simply because God made us in his image. And in the eyes of God we are all, every one of us worth dying for.

And God has been asking us all, from day one, to somehow be part of convincing others of this truth. He has given his life on the cross so that we could let this truth define the way we see others, that every person was created by God in his image and deserves to be treated with that same kind of dignity and respect.

We have all seen over and over how easy it is for discrimination and injustice to lead to violence and bloodshed. And we try to fix the problem with a lot of things. But those fixes always focus on the surface issue. Government programs might help for a while. Inspirational speeches might help for a while. But in the end, God’ plan is the only plan that will work. First of all that each of us see that we, ourselves, have been created in the image of God. And that we see that every person, regardless, has been created in the image of God as well.

And in God’ plan, we all have a responsibility to share that truth with others. And if we love God with all of our hearts, our souls, our minds and with all our strength. And we love our neighbors as ourselves, then we are well on our way to fulfilling that responsibility.

And just as Jesus told the scribe in this gospel, we could hear him tell us: “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”