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As Near As Here

You are not far from the Reign of God
Mark 12:28-34

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Sermon Week Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle B

Scripture Summary Mark 12:34


The story is told of the Old Testament period in which the Israelites were suffering in Egyptian bondage...

God traveled around the earth in search of people who would be willing to follow His law. He came upon a Mideastern entrepreneur and said to him, "Would you like to follow My commandments?" The man frowned suspiciously. "Like what, for instance?" he asked. God replied, "One is, 'Thou shalt not kill!'" "You must be mad," said the man. "I earn my livelihood by lying in wait for desert camel trains, killing the merchants when they arrive and taking all their goods. A commandment like that would put me out of business."

God turned away and resumed His search. He came upon another entrepreneur in Babylonia. "Would you like to follow My commandments?" God asked. "What, for example?" asked the man. "Thou shalt not steal!" said God. "I'm sorry," the man replied, "in my business, lying and cheating and misrepresenting increase my profits. If I cannot steal, I'll never get rich."

Rather discouraged, God traveled to Egypt where he found a bearded old man named Moses who was trying to get the ruler of the land to set his people free. "Moses, would you like to follow My commandments?" God asked. Moses replied, "How much do they cost?" "Why, nothing," said God, "I'm giving them away. They're free." "In that case," said Moses, "I'll take ten."1

God's commandments are the subject of today's Gospel Lesson. Jesus is walking in the Temple area and various chief priests, elders, pharisees and scribes approach Him, in turn, with questions designed to entrap Him. Today's Lesson describes one such encounter -- with a Scribe.

The Scribes were highly respected by the Jewish Community because of their superior knowledge of religious law and their ability to interpret it for the people. Most Scribes were also Pharisees. They insisted on rigid interpretation of the religious law, down to the last detail. And because Jesus was teaching that it was the "spirit" rather than the "letter" of the law that mattered most, the Scribes saw Him as a threat [...]

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