Near and Far


Saturday, August 18, 2018

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?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one;  you 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.’  The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that God is one, and besides God there is no other’;  and ‘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.” When 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 Jesus any question.  – Mark 12:28-34

You hear this many times in His teaching, this use of “near” and “far” when He speaks of Truth.  “The Kingdom of God is near!”  And here …“You are not far from the kingdom of Heaven.”

Possibly it is but an coincidental matter, or possibly by the design of either Christ or Mark or the translator.  The text states that “one of the scribes came near“… One could take this choice of language, this sense of “near” and “far” to refer to geographical distance.  Or one could take it to be referring to temporal distance.  Or one could take it to refer to moving toward or away from perfect clarity.  In this well-seasoned time in my life when I am “nearing” that grand transition, I think it is probably a fusion of all three … geographical, temporal, and clarity.

In photography, one works at achieving perfect focus that brings about that clarity.  The blurry achieves clarity through focus.  And I have found that most of us struggle in our understanding not so much in terms of right understanding and wrong understanding … but rather in the clarity of our understanding.

healing the blind man's eyesLike the blind man that Christ healed in a two-fold process.  First, the blind man could see but vaguely see for the people looked like trees walking.  But, then, when Christ ministered to him a second time … it was only that he could finally see clearly.  In the beginning of our journey of salvation, we see through a dusty window, but through the years, as Christ continues to wash our eyes in our baptismal waters, we more and more clearly the Truth of God.  That is … if we allow through prayerful contemplation and prayerful acts of servanthood Christ to continue to heal our vision.

The scribe drew nearer to Christ … and in so doing Christ drew nearer to him.  They ask questions of each other … and in so doing … the scribe drew all the nearer to the understanding that it not merely giving lip-service to the commandments, but in doing them … but then to come ever nearer … place within those commandments the the quality of Christ’s Soul.

Always in Christ’s Service,

Fr. Charitas de la Cruz





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