Saturday, October 13, 2012
28TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – B
28TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – B
Wis 7:7-11 / Heb 4:12-13 / Mk 10:17-30 or Mk 10:17- 27
I prayed and understanding was given to me; I asked earnestly and the spirit of Wisdom came to me. I preferred her to scepters and thrones and I considered wealth as nothing compared with her. I preferred her to any jewel of inestimable value, since gold beside her is nothing but a few grains of sand, and silver but mud. I loved her more than wealth and beauty and even preferred her to light, because her radiance never dies. She brought with her all other good things, untold riches in her hands.
For the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword. It pierces to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and judges the intentions and thoughts of the heart. All creation is transparent to Him; everything is uncovered and laid bare to the eyes of Him to whom we render account.
Just as Jesus was setting out on his journey again, a man ran up, knelt before him and asked, "Good Master, what must I do to have eternal life?" Jesus answered, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: Do not kill, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not cheat, honor your father and mother." The man replied, "I have obeyed all these commandments since my childhood." Then Jesus looked steadily at him and loved him and he said, "For you, one thing is lacking. Go, sell what you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven. Then come and follow me." On hearing these words, his face fell and he went away sorrowful, for he was a man of great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!" The disciples were shocked at these words, but Jesus insisted, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." They were more astonished than ever and wondered, "Who, then, can be saved?" Jesus looked steadily at them and said, "For human beings it is impossible, but not for God; all things are possible with God."
In today's Gospel, the rich young man wants everlasting life on his own terms. He wants no sacrifice of personal wealth. He links his identity to his financial condition; he sees them as prospering or declining together. He goes away sad because he wants to follow Jesus but not at that price. Jesus concludes: "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle then for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." How does this apply to a congregation that is by a large financially comfortable?
To face the issue intelligently, we shall follow the suggestion of Fr. Walter Burghardt, S.J., that we first recapture the biblical background to put the passage in context, then uncover what Jesus himself had in mind when he spoke this way about riches, and finally, to ask what all this might say to us today.
First, consider some biblical background. The disciples were astonished at Jesus' words. It seemed that Jesus was saying it's impossible for anyone to enter the kingdom of heaven. What made it more puzzling was the strong Jewish belief that wealth was a sign of God's blessing. Remember God blessed Job at the end of his trial with twice as much as he had before. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, all were rich men; for God enriched those He loved.
Now what did Jesus say to that time-honored tradition and belief? Not only did he have "nowhere to lay his head," not only did he depend on the hospitality of others – on the women of Galilee, Mary and Martha of Bethany, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arithmathea, the tax collector Zacchaeus. He condemned wealth in very strong terms: "Woe to you, who are rich, for you have received your consolation."(Luke 6:24) It is to the poor that the kingdom of God belongs. In one passage, Jesus called riches "unjust mammon." In line with that, "Anyone, who does not give up all he possesses, cannot be a disciple of mine." (Luke 14:33)
There are certainly strong radical sayings. But there is another side to it – a side of Jesus that makes us hesitate about the harsher words. As far as we know, he never told Lazarus and his sisters Martha and Mary, to give up all they had. He did not tell Nicodemus and Joseph of Arithmathea that they were not candidates for the kingdom of heaven. When the rich Zacchaeus announced, "Behold, Lord, I give to the poor half my belonging", Jesus told him, "Today, salvation has come to this house…."
Which is the real Jesus? Which will it be – no riches or some? On riches there is a radical Jesus and a moderate Jesus. There is the Jesus for whom wealth is totally connected with evil, and there is the Jesus, who counsels a prudent use of possession to help the less fortunate. There is a Jesus who tells some people to give it all away, and there is a Jesus, who advises others to share what they have. There is a Jesus who stresses how selfish and godless the rich become, and there is the Jesus who experiences how generous and God-fearing his well-to-do friends can be.
The radical Jesus must never cease to challenge us. Nothing should take precedence over Christ in our life, his right to rule over our heart. But experience tells us that there is a danger in any possession – that it can direct our life, manipulate us, enslave us. When that happens, Christ takes second place. We fail to listen, hear his call or his command: give it all up or only half, to care and to share, to let go.
On the other hand, the moderate Jesus fixes our eyes on something wonderfully positive. That is the gift we have in anything we possess, anything we "own," whatever blessings are are ultimately God's gift.
Each one of us is gifted in more ways perhaps than our modesty will admit. What the moderate Jesus tells us is to use our gifts as he invites or commands us to use them. To some he may say: "Give all you have to the poor and come, follow me naked..." To others: "Share what you possess; use it for your brothers and sisters. Employ your power for peace, your wisdom to reconcile, your knowledge to open horizons, your compassion to heal, your hope to destroy despair, your very weakness to give strength. Remember, your most precious possession is yourself. Give it away – generously."
To do that, we must look at the Lord. How can we ever reconcile our riches with God's kingdom, our possessions with Christ's command to let go? "With men and women," Jesus said, "it is impossible, but not with God: for all things are possible with God."
We pray …
… for a deep and profound respect for life, especially for the unborn.
… for the speedy recovery and healing of
- Johnny, Mary Ann M, Delores, Gene L, Ben & Nancy, Luke I, Netta & Fr Larry
- Bienvenido Pangilinan
… for the personal intentions of
- Dana, Rita P & Eugene R
… In Memoriam: Cipriano Maribojoc
… for the eternal repose of the souls of
- Pam D, George B, Cherrie L, Tony S
Eternal rest grant unto them and may perpetual light shine upon them. May they and all the dearly departed rest in peace.
… for all the prayer intentions in the MTQ Dailyprayer Diary.
- In Memoriam (+): Co Ti
- In Memoriam (+): Carmen J. Fabella
- In Memoriam (+): Antonio delas Alas Sr.
… for families who are in need of healing
… for world peace and reconciliation.
Finally, we pray for one another, for those who have asked our prayers and for those who need our prayers the most.
Have a good day!
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