Both Job and the Psalmist express that feeling we have all experienced of being far away from God, overwhelmed by our situations and unable to sense God’s presence. And yet, both express their deep desire to be answered by God and to be heard and cared for by God. They wait in pain and distress but with conviction that God will come to them.
The rich young man in our gospel lesson comes to Jesus with that same deep desire to be in his presence, to be his follower. We have no reason to doubt his obedience to all the commandments. Yet not even a man as faithful as he is still lacking. There is always something, that sticking point, even that responsibility that keeps us from entering fully into God’s presence, living completely the fullness of life in God. Jesus understands that; he looks at that young man with love, even as he goes away despondent. The disciples are “astounded,” and ask, “Then who can be saved?” Only God can bring human beings into his kingdom, Jesus tells them.
The letter to the Hebrews also carries through this theme of God’s all-knowing judging of the contents of our hearts, but it also turns our hopeful hearts to Jesus, the Son of God, our “great high priest,” who came to earth and lived like us, was tempted and tested like we are, suffered like we do. He has now “passed through the heavens,” so that we can now “approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
In our worship this Sunday we will approach that throne of grace once again, asking God to cleanse us and inspire us and make us ready to live the lives He calls us to live. We can be confident in his mercy.