You are not far from the Kingdom of God. - Mark 12:34
Kingdom of God. Heaven. Salvation. Eternal life.
What are your first thoughts when you hear these terms? If you are at all like me, it is hard not to think these terms refer to what happens to us after we die. So often they are distant, seemingly unattainable concepts or goals. More frighteningly, they also seem to reflect some sort of merit-based system of, “If I do this and this and this, then God rewards me with…” And they pop everywhere in our faith and scripture.
I have a strong feeling, though, that when Jesus speaks of something like the “Kingdom of God” as he does in today’s gospel or when he tells the rich man a few chapters back to give his money to the poor in order to have “riches in heaven,” Jesus is not speaking about where our soul “goes” when we die. In fact, I have found great peace from the Lord recently in my life that tells me not to even worry about what happens when I die.
I can be in the Kingdom of God right now. I can be in heaven right now. I can be saved right now. I can enter into the eternal right now. How? Today’s reading from Hosea provides a hint. “Take with you words and return to the Lord.” And I have found that the words are simple as I paraphrase from today’s gospel: I want to love you Lord with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my mind and with all my strength.
Oh how freeing it is to accept that the Kingdom of God is not something I earn! Why would I want to believe in a God who rewards with heaven and punishes with hell? I cannot fall in love with that type of God. The God I can fall madly in love with more and more every day is this Infinite Being of Love who is incarnate, who is my True Self, who is your True Self. This is the Christ. And I think we each have one simple choice every moment of our lives: Do we surrender to this Incarnation or not? Let us all try to surrender today and see what happens from there.
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