And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”
Today’s reading and gospel ask us to realize the power of dialogue with Jesus. The dictionary tells us that dialogue, used as a noun, is a conversation between two or more people, especially one directed toward exploration of a particular subject or resolution of a problem. It goes on to point out all the synonyms for dialogue: conversation, talk, discussion, interchange, discourse, debate, or consultation. As a verb, dialogue means to take part in a conversation or discussion to resolve a problem.
Looking at these definitions, we see relationship is essential to dialogue. One must enter into dialogue with another, be part of it rather than just a subject of it – i.e., being talked at. Dialogue has an aim, it is not just entertainment – i.e., listening and speaking for the sake of words alone. Dialogue is about going deeper in learning and toward resolution of questions or problems.
Jesus enters into dialogue with the Scribe. The Scribe asks a question and he and Jesus have a back and forth exchange of ideas that leads to understanding. At the end, the Scribe gained understanding and both the Scribe and Jesus speak with joy.
The previous encounters between Jesus and the religious and political leaders were never a dialogue. Those were meant to entrap Jesus by stealth. Jesus silenced them. The one person who breaks the pattern is the Scribe. He enters genuine dialogue – he is close to the kingdom because he used the chance of dialogue to get closer to real understanding.
We have heard Jesus’ teachings. Now we too must break through and go deeper to real understanding of what it means to bring about the kingdom – the truth of God’s Law of love.
Bishop Stan entered dialog with Jesus. He went deeper with Jesus to understand the kingdom. He had questions answered. He met with Jesus, spoke regularly with Him, and came to understand the work Jesus was calling him to do to grow His kingdom. He worked diligently, taking those ongoing dialogues with Jesus and bringing them into his dialogue with us, with our Church’s youth, with our community. Let us take this time to honor him by taking his example to heart and living in dialogue toward the kingdom.