The Holy Trinity, Max Švabinský 1930, St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague, Czech Republic.
Jesus replied, “The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. Mark 12:29-30.
Words highlighted in red are links to supporting materials.
Today’s readings are a clarion call back to absolute basics, a declaration in our belief in God, first, last and always. Here is the God who made us, who sustains us and who calls us to a greater reality, one of eternal happiness and joy. To believe this, and to act and conduct ourselves in response to the teachings we have received from the hand of God, is to prepare ourselves to enter upon that glorious full life which is our destiny and fulfillment. Perhaps today’s readings invite us to step back a moment from the trials and tribulations of daily life, with all its challenges and pitfalls, and gaze upon our destination, the heavenly Jerusalem. It’s a bit like looking at brochures showing a spectacular holiday destination which may or may not be as gorgeous as the pictures. The heavenly Jerusalem, however, will not disappoint, and will be our home for eternity! It is our duty to make sure that we keep to that yellow brick road leading us directly to that glorious place and we don’t go wandering down some dirt track, probably with glittering empty promises of a wondrous alternative destination, but which leads to a grim, desolate and bleak nowhere.
These readings come to us as the church’s year moves to its close. It is a reminder of what life is all about, where we are going, what our life should be. We are here for a good reason, that we can achieve a spectacular conclusion to this life by entering the gates of another. And on the way, if we accept the Lord’s teachings and emulate his example, we will enjoy a pre-heaven as it were, a happiness which is a pre-echo of what is to come, even here, in ordinary life. And that is possible even when things do not go our way, and even then we stick to our values and remain focussed on the pathway which leads to the New Jerusalem. No-one ever said the road would be clear, smooth and level, because it isn’t. But it does tell us the direction we have to go in, even if at times we cannot see it too clearly, like Bartimaeus last Sunday. He couldn’t see the Lord, as he was blind, but he knew Jesus was the Messiah, the one who could give him his sight and, more important, the one who could show him what he should do with his life. We know this because he followed Jesus thereafter, just as we all should. In many ways we are crippled too, slaves to things we should not be slaves to, acting in ways that lead us away from the way we should be following. That’s when the Lord appears, if we let him to, heals us, re-directs us, gives us a push in the right direction, and stays with us on the journey. Let us give thanks for such a guide! And remember, eucharist is the Greek word for thanks.
A man healed at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:8), Sim 2020.
Reflections on next Sunday’s Mass Readings will be posted on Wednesday.
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