Pentecost +22 - Year B
All is well while we keep Jesus in a Jewish context. The great commandment vignette comforts us. Imagine, though, one of the Magi passing by on the track of another star while this disputation with Jesus was going on and heard all this talk about a first commandment that was extended to two. Might this Magi have dared to ask a question since his tradition was not that of the Jewish scriptures.
“Jesus, might you not say the most important commandment is that we can please Ahura Mazda through virtuous deeds?”
Could Jesus respond, “You are not far from a presence of G*D.”?
If the Magi had come a bit further away perhaps the question would be, “Jesus, you expanded a first commandment to two commandments. Would you also agree the most important commandments are to discern suffering, to live virtuously, and to meditate?”
Would Jesus still respond, “You are not far from a presence of G*D.”?
Presuming Jesus is time neutral, the Magi might ask, “Jesus, are not the most important commandments to testify that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, to perform the prayers, to pay the zakat, to fast in Ramadhan, and to make the pilgrimage to the House if you are able to do so."
Will Jesus still say, “You are not far from a presence of G*D.”?
However you put your current understanding of life, its focal point, your loyalty, are you ready for Jesus to say to you, “You are not far from a presence of G*D.”?
For Jesus, for whom the presence of G*D was constituent, seeing the presence of G*D everywhere he looked and with every person he encountered (including Judas Iscariot and thieves) would be his standard operating procedure. Jesus would not want to stop with just a naming of commandments, but the living of them into a next stage of maturity?
As you meet folks from a variety of perspectives, may your first response be, “You are not far from a presence of G*D.” Of course you will not say this condescendingly and await their conversion to your belief structure. In your meeting, may you also hear that your response is “not far from a presence of G*D.”