28th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B – 2018

FIRST READING            Wisdom 7:7-11

I prayed, and prudence was given me; I pleaded, and the spirit of wisdom came to me.  I preferred her to scepter and throne, and deemed riches nothing in comparison with her, nor did I liken any priceless gem to her; because all gold, in view of her, is a little sand, and before her, silver is to be accounted mire.  Beyond health and comeliness I loved her, and I chose to have her rather than the light, because the splendor of her never yields to sleep.  Yet all good things together came to me in her company, and countless riches at her hands.

SECOND READING                  Hebrews 4:12-13

Brothers and sisters:  Indeed the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.  No creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account.

GOSPEL                Mark 10:17-30

As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good?  No one is good but God alone.  You know the commandments: You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother.”  He replied and said to him, “Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.”  Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing.  Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”  At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.  Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”  The disciples were amazed at his words.  So Jesus again said to them in reply, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!  It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”  They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves, “Then who can be saved?”  Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God.  All things are possible for God.”  Peter began to say to him, “We have given up everything and followed you.”  Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age:  houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come.”

My sisters and brothers in Jesus Christ,

Prudence and wisdom are the gifts that we should ask of God, and not money, wealth, riches, fame, power and other worldly gifts.  We must be willing to give up everything in this life for the sake of the Lord Jesus.

The first reading today is from the Book of Wisdom and some see this as Solomon pleading with God.  It could be any of us pleading with God.  The point of the reading today is to ask ourselves:  “What do I ask of God?”  For sure if we are poor and need money, we might ask money of God.  God wants us to ask of Him what we really need.  On the other hand, we often ask for things we really want, but perhaps don’t really need.  When we ask for what we really need, God listens to our prayer—even when God may not give us what we really need right when we want it!

The second reading is from the Letter to the Hebrews and continues this medication on prudence and wisdom.  The author of this Letter tells us that “the word of God is able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.”  Many of us have reflections and thoughts in our hearts that we would rather no one else ever was aware of.  Many spiritual writers remind us over and over that God knows us and knows everything about us.  For some of us, that can be a scary thought until we realize that God is always seeking to love us and to help us grow closer to Him.  That does not mean that God simply accepts whatever we have in our minds and our hearts, but that God invites us to be purified and to let go of all that is not truly worthy of Him and of what He asks of us.  The spiritual life is a progress in knowing God’s love for us and in letting go of all that might impede that love within us.

The Gospel today, from Saint Mark, tells the story of a very good young man who wants to follow Jesus and who has been deeply faithful to the teachings of God in his Jewish faith.  Yes when Jesus asks the young man to give up all his wealth and come and follow HIM, then the young man goes away sad.  What a strong teaching.  God is always asking things of each of us.  In so many ways, we are like the rich young man:  good and not yet totally committed.  We don’t know what the young man did later on.  Perhaps he ended up selling everything and giving it to the poor and following Jesus.  But his first response was only sadness.

We can ask ourselves what it would make us sad to give up for the sake of following the Lord.  Ideally we should be able to give up everything and follow the Lord Jesus.  Jesus does not ask everything to give up everything right away, but in the end we all know that we must be willing to give up everything and cling only to the Lord.  Only if we continue to grow in our awareness of and acceptance of HIS love can we finally give up all for Him and enter the Kingdom.

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip