The law, justice, punishment - we like those ideas, until they are pointed at us. Until the law comes for us and our brokenness and fragility. Between last Sunday's Gospel and the Sunday upcoming, four verses get left out, and they are the hard words of the Law:
14 The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all this, and they ridiculed him. 15 So he said to them, ‘You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of others; but God knows your hearts; for what is prized by human beings is an abomination in the sight of God.
16 ‘The law and the prophets were in effect until John came; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is proclaimed, and everyone tries to enter it by force. 17 But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one stroke of a letter in the law to be dropped.
18 ‘Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and whoever marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.
What we value - power, money, sex, control - is an abomination in the sight of God. Not wonder we would prefer to skip over these verses. But if we miss the hard words on sex and money, we also miss the overwhelming grace present in vs. 16. The good news of the kingdom of God is proclaimed and everyone [FOOLISHLY] tries to enter it by force. We think that the Reign of God works by the same rules as our world, power wins! But, dear people, the Reign of God comes to us. We can't use our rules on it. It searches us out in our weakness. It finds us in our poverty of heart and Spirit.
It is when we finally give up on the project of the law and saving ourselves, that the Reign of God finally welcomes us in, in all of its fullness.