Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Oct 13, 2021 | Blogs, Fr. Luke, Homilies

“A man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, ‘Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’”  Words from our Gospel today from the 10th chapter of the Gospel according to St. Mark – sisters and brothers, may the Lord give to you his peace and his joy.

You certainly have to appreciate and admire even the sincerity and piety of the person who has been forever dubbed the rich young man of our Gospel today.  Here he is, a good person.  He has observed all the commandments, from his youth no less.  Furthermore, the rich young man is not complacent, he is looking to improve himself.  He recognizes that he is missing something deep inside himself, and is motivated to do something about it.  He doesn’t put it off, saying to himself, “I’ll work on that tomorrow,” but he takes the initiative and runs up to Jesus instead of waiting around for an opportunity.  He recognizes Jesus as a good teacher, and Jesus in a turn of phrase acknowledges that God is indeed good, that he himself is the source of all goodness.  And so, acknowledging this, the young man approaches him with great reverence, kneeling down before him.  And in response, before Jesus says anything, looks upon this young man with love.  We are meant to look upon him in the same way, with love.  There is so much to like about him.  We admire his moral goodness, his holiness, his earnest searching.  And even when he is confronted with the challenge to give up his riches for the sake of the kingdom of God and goes away sad, we sympathize with him, with his struggle, and we feel sad too.  Why?  Because he represents the best of us and there is such promise in him as he searches feverishly and reverently for the ultimate things of life.  And yet, as he falls, our own hope seems to be dashed as well.  If he can’t do it, what hope is there for us?  Peter speaks for all of us: “Haven’t we given up so much to follow you?”  We are right there with the rich young man; we are right there with the disciples – trying hard to follow Jesus, and yet find ourselves still lacking in something.  And so, the living word of God likewise speaks to us in the same way today and presents us with a challenge, but also with an opportunity for grace.

The Challenge:  You know, it’s not so much about the riches themselves.  If it was, then why would the Scriptures promise that we would receive a hundred times more in this present age in comparison to what we gave up, or why would our first reading declare that in searching after and obtaining true wisdom “all good things together came to me in her company, and countless riches at her hands.”  The real challenge is let go of our attachments.  The rich young man earnestly sought eternal life, but he was too attached to his wealth to give it over, even to a noble cause.  His possessions possessed him, and if we’re not careful the same thing can happen to us.  Wealth is insidious that way, it’s sneaky.  Again, there is nothing wrong with having riches, but we can become too attached to them which will prevent us from following Christ and doing what God asks of us.  This is indeed a big problem for the United States.  Our wealth and prosperous culture has enabled an unhealthy attachment to many things, not just to drugs, but to media consumption, social media consumption, to our comfortable standards of living, even to our own respective ideas.  And yet, we say after spending hours in some mindless activity, “where did all the time go?” realizing our attachment to various pleasures has led us to waste time and opportunities.  Others come into what is called a Midlife Crisis because they have finally reflected upon what life is all about, what God has called them to, and what they need to do to attain eternal life only after having diverted their energy towards a particular education, career, family, and/or way of life contrary to their purpose and ultimate happiness.  As we reflect, we see divisions in our country because we are so attached to our ideas that we could never cross the isle, love our enemies, forgive others’ transgressions, or go out for a beer after a debate.  I want to say that I am aware of the great anguish here; I see it, I hear you, I know the real implications this has on people’s lives, and the pain we are inflicting on one another as we bend the laws of our nation towards our respective ideologies and cancel everything and everyone in our way.  If we had an answer to this, we wouldn’t be at such crossroads.  For human beings this is impossible.  Our attachments are our undoing.

Amidst the challenge is an opportunity for grace:  I came across a great story the other day that plays into this last example.  A little girl wanted to know what the United States looked like, so her dad tore out a map from a magazine and cut it into small pieces.  He told her to go to her room to see if she could put it together.  After some minutes she returned with the map correctly fitted and taped together.  The dad was surprised and asked how she finished so quickly.  She said, ‘on the other side was a picture of Jesus and when I put him back, then our country just came together.”  And that’s the opportunity here.  For God, all things are possible.  That is the theme that our faith formation and school is running with this year, and they are reflecting on how God accomplishes more in our lives than we could possibly imagine.  I never really thought the priesthood was for me.  I don’t like speaking in front of people.  I hate getting up in the morning.  There are other challenges besides.  Persecutions are included in Jesus’ promise.  But I tell you, I couldn’t have been happier.  I love that prayer that goes: Lord remind me that there is nothing that can happen today that you and I can’t handle together.  God knows what he is about.  What Jesus says is true.  Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be given to you besides.  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.  So, put God’s promise to the test for yourselves.  Like the rich young man, if you find that you are still lacking in something, consider that there is only one who is good: God alone and with God alone will you find everything you are looking for.

Reading I

Wis 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.

Responsorial Psalm

Ps 90:12-13, 14-15, 16-17

  1. (14)    Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy!
    Teach us to number our days aright,
     that we may gain wisdom of heart.
    Return, O LORD! How long?
     Have pity on your servants!
    R. Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy!
    Fill us at daybreak with your kindness,
        that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days.
    Make us glad, for the days when you afflicted us,
        for the years when we saw evil.
    R. Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy!
    Let your work be seen by your servants
        and your glory by their children;
    and may the gracious care of the LORD our God be ours;
        prosper the work of our hands for us!
        Prosper the work of our hands!
    R. Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy!

Reading II

Heb 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.

Alleluia

Mt 5:3

  1. Alleluia, alleluia.
    Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel

Mk 10:17-30 or 10:17-27

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.”

OR:

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.”