Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ask the Question

Mark 12:28-34 (NRSV)
28 One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, 'Which commandment is the first of all?' 29Jesus answered, 'The first is, "Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength." 31The second is this, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." There is no other commandment greater than these.' 32Then the scribe said to him, 'You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that "he is one, and besides him there is no other"; 33and "to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength," and "to love one's neighbor as oneself," -this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.' 34When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, 'You are not far from the kingdom of God.' After that no one dared to ask him any question.

After that no one dared to ask him any question. Is that a good thing? One would think that having a teacher who answers wisely in your midst would prompt you to ask all your questions. But, perhaps that is not the point that the evangelist is pressing. Perhaps the evangelist is writing with more than his immediate audience in mind. Maybe he is letting us know that we will not have answers to all of our questions and that we will have to learn to live with mystery.
My younger child is in the “why?” phase of toddlerhood. Each question opens the door to another question. “Why do I have to take a bath?” “because it’s almost time for bed.” “why do I have to go to bed?” “because you need rest” “But why do I need rest?” can see where this is going.
Having asked the first question and received a wise answer why didn’t the scribe ask the next question “If I am not far from the kingdom of God, what would draw me nearer?”
Maybe, like many of us, he didn’t really want to know the answer. Loving God and neighbor is enough work to be getting on with for now. If there is more required to enter the kingdom better not to know.
Maybe the reason that question remained unasked is that the answer is different for each of us. All of us are required to love God with heart and mind, soul and strength. Each of is commanded to love neighbor as self. When we have done those things the last step to draw us into the kingdom is as unique as a fingerprint. Ask the question, God will answer you.

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