SUNDAY, TWENTY EIGHTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
Wis 7: 7-11; Ps 90: 12-17; Heb 4: 12-13; Mk 10: 17-30
ORIENTED TOWARDS ETERNAL LIFE
The message in the Book of Wisdom seems so practical even in our times. In the passage of the first reading, the author has realised that reaching eternal life is the only aim worth striving for in this life. Everything else is temporary and transient while eternal life is permanent. He is willing to forego all earthly wealth and power, rather than desert this wisdom. Christ came for this, to obtain for us eternal life. As Christians, we also need to direct our actions while on earth to attain eternal life.
The reading from the letter to the Hebrews is a warning to us that nothing is hidden from God. Our innermost thoughts and intentions are known to God, to whom we have to give account. He knows all our weaknesses and is ready to raise us up when we fall, if we repent and turn to him.
The Gospel passage confirms the message of the Book of Wisdom. Being too attached to worldly goods is one of the biggest obstacles to union with God. The man in the Gospel was living a good life; he kept all the commandments and was genuinely interested in eternal life. Jesus wanted more from him. Jesus knew that he had to be detached from wealth to become holy and lead others to holiness. Christ, seeing in him the makings of a saint, asked him to make an exceptional sacrifice, one which he did not specifically ask of all his followers. His remark to the disciples later – “How hard it will be for those who have riches to enter the Kingdom of God” – holds good for all time and all mankind.
It does not mean that a disciple of the Lord may not possess wealth; however, one should not allow one’s wealth to take a hold of oneself, such that one has no time for acquiring everlasting goods – the virtues. There are other sins, of course, which can keep us from attaining eternal life, but the sin of irrational greed for wealth seems the most unreasonable of them all. While most of us may not be guilty of such excessive greed for wealth, we need to examine our conscience as to how we acquire and use the wealth we have.
Are the material things we possess hindering our relationship with God and our neighbour? Christ praised the widow who put her mite in the temple box. We need not be rich to be charitable; often, our own exaggerated sense of poverty can make us hard-hearted toward the less fortunate who look to us for help. A true follower of Christ whose purpose in life is to please God, will not cling to his wealth but will be ready to help others.
To be a follower of Christ one must become a partner with God in the creative work of building the Kingdom, a complex of mutual relationships based on truth, love, respect and justice. The words “inherit eternal life” could mean entering into a deeper relationship with God through a life of prayer and following in the footsteps of Jesus, but it also means having a right relationship with our neighbours. The young wealthy man wanted to enter into this deeper life, but on his conditions, by drawing up a list of things to do, and things to avoid; he eventually learns that the only way is to take the risk of leaving all and walking in the way God desires to lead him.
Jesus is a firm teacher who asks us to take the leap of faith, asks us to stick our necks out, to get out of our comfort zone. We need to ask ourselves; am I like the rich man who seeks security in my possessions, or is God my security? Am I so comfortable in my own zone that I fail to notice the needs of my neighbour? Am I the one who will be disheartened when asked to let go of my possessions to enter into the right relationship with God and my neighbour? Am I using the commandments as an excuse for not walking in faith?
Let our prayer today be, “Lord, when we see the pitfalls in the way to true holiness, and how even the virtuous find it difficult to enter there, we wonder, can anyone be saved? But that is a moment of grace because we understand then, that spiritual growth is your work O Lord, and everything is possible for you, Amen.
Response: Fill us with your merciful love, O Lord, and we shall exult.
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