COR THOUGHTS 223: Passion for the Kingdom

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Jesus has a way of turning people’s religious presuppositions on their head. In this weekend’s Gospel Jesus says to the chief priests and elders: “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.” Olivier Clement writes, “In the Gospel the very root of sin is the pretense that we can save ourselves by our own effort. … The publicans and harlots enter the Kingdom before the just because they are well aware that they cannot save themselves.” They are well aware that nothing they have turned to in their passions has brought them satisfaction, and so their “longing for the Infinite” – their utter need and poverty – attracts them to Christ. The chief priests and elders, on the other hand, have suffocated their longing and need in favor of “self-satisfaction” in their own “virtue.” There is, indeed, a great divide between religion understood as a “keeping of the law” vs. that of a “longing for the Infinite.” And this is why, as Saint Augustine put it, “He who loses himself in his passion is less lost than he who loses his passion.”