You are not far from the kingdom of God.
Jesus spoke these words to one of the scribes, a group that was often at loggerheads with him. But this particular scribe seemed to approve of Jesus, noticing how well he spoke and listening to what he was saying. He asked Jesus "Which is the first of all the commandments?"
Jesus answered with two: love God and love your neighbor, and summed up by saying "There is no other commandment greater than these."
The scribe then responded, "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."
Answering with such understanding then drew forth Jesus's comment, "You are not far from the kingdom of God."
My reflection from The Word among Us suggests that because this scribe was not yet ready for the revelation of Jesus's divinity, Jesus left him with the invitation to keep searching, and that in many ways we are all encouraged to keep looking for a deeper level of intimacy with Jesus throughout our lives. As one spiritual writer explained, "We are always only at the beginning of love."
Each day offers us new opportunities to grow spiritually, and I am very conscious of this during Lent, particularly this year when my nephew Zachary is going through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults and will be received into the Church during the Easter season. We talk about his class nearly every week, read the Scripture readings for the coming Sunday, and I always feel enriched by his questions, his astute observations and his deep desire to become a better person, husband and father. We are not far from the kingdom of God, yet each day we can take one step closer in the light of His love.