Saturday, March 17, 2007

Friday in the 3rd Week of Lent
Boarding the Right Bus

Readings: Hosea 14:2-10; Psalm 81:6c-8a, 8bc-9, 10-11ab, 14 and 17; Mark 12:28-34

You are not far from the kingdom of God…

What a remarkable thing for Jesus to say to the wise scribe! Imagine that: to be told that you’re near to experiencing the fullness of love, joy, justice and peace of the kingdom of God! Can the scribe believe his ears? Can he truly be near the kingdom of God when everything around him seems to remain exactly the same – especially when his small but proud nation remains under Roman occupation?

I’m reminded of the bus-trip I took this week to Malaysia and back. At the bus station and at the immigration check point there were sometimes many different buses waiting for passengers to board them. As long as you boarded the right bus, it would take you where you needed to go, even if your destination was very far away. But, if you were a little sleepy or just plain blur, and happened to board the wrong bus, it could take you very far from where you needed to go.

Could this be similar to what Jesus means in the gospel today? Sure, there may still be a distance for the scribe to travel to get to the kingdom of God, but could Jesus be congratulating him for identifying and trying to get on the right bus? If so, what is this bus? How do we recognize it?

Its markings are well-known to us. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength… (and) your neighbour as yourself. Clearly, the operative word here is all. Love God with every fibre of your being. Place your trust in God alone. And let that love overflow to others. This is the bus that we need to board in order to arrive safely at our destination. But it’s easier said than done, isn’t it? Too often we’re in the habit of boarding other buses. Sure, we may love God. We may put our trust in God. We may even work for God in many different ways. But do we love God with all? Do we trust in God alone? Or, like the Israelites in the first reading, do we not rather tend to have backup plans? In a time of national crisis, the Israelites relied on the horses of the Assyrians. In times when their God seem absent and silent, they constructed their own gods out of wood and stone. We are not that much different. Whether it be in the stock market or the internet, at the workplace or the shopping mall, we too have idols of our own, the things and the people that prevent us from loving God with all. Very often we board the wrong bus.

Isn’t this why we need this great season of Lent? We need to allow God to wake us up and to help us to see more clearly which bus we are on. We need to hear the divine conductor beckon to us: come back to the Lord your God… all your fruitfulness comes from me… If you wish to get to your true destination, get on the right bus.

What bus are you on?

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