Read Wisdom 7:7-11, Ps. 90:12-17, Hebrews 4:12-13, Mark 10:17-30
“I prayed, and understanding was given me; I called on God, and the spirit of wisdom came to me. I preferred her to sceptres and thrones, and I accounted wealth as nothing in comparison with her.” (Wisdom 7:7-8)
Last Sunday, Jesus was asked a question regarding divorce and his answer which was shocking to his listeners (and even to many today) was that from the beginning, God never intended for marriage to have an expiry date but that a man and a woman live together till death.
Today, Jesus is asked another question, this time by a rich young man. Having achieved a lot of success in this life, the young man wanted to know how he would also achieve great things in the life to come. Jesus’ response, just like that of last Sunday, is also very shocking: “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, then come follow me.”
Looking at last Sunday’s readings and that of today, one might be tempted to wonder: “Is it even possible to be a Christian?” Is Jesus not asking for too much? For instance, how do you remain in a troubled marriage where it seems divorce is the only way out? Does it make sense that after you have worked hard for your money, you just give it away in the hope of eternal life? Surprisingly Jesus himself answers these questions in today’s Gospel passage: “With men, it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.” This brings us to our lessons for today:
1. With Men, it is Impossible but with God, all Things are Possible.
The Christian life is not difficult as many think. The problem is that many Christians assume they can do without God. Rather than put all our trust in God, we trust in ourselves, our intelligence, our money or even in the people we know. We neglect our daily prayers in the guise of “no-time” but we pursue money all day long. We forget that Jesus clearly told us: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
2. How Hard It will be For Those Who Trust in Riches to Enter the Kingdom of God.
The young man never expected Jesus would make such a demand of him. One thing this young man failed to realize is that heaven is a place of love; a place where people care for one another; not a place of mad competition as we have it here; not a place where a man is prepared to sell his own family members to make money. This young man, like the rich man in the parable of Lazarus did not care about the poor. He cared only about himself.
Unfortunately, this is characteristic of many wealthy persons. You hardly find people who are very rich and yet, very generous to the poor. I can tell you why wealthy people are very stingy – they think that their life depends on their wealth. In reality, giving out a kobo is like tearing out a pound of flesh from their skin. They trust in their wealth more than they trust in God. The young man walked away because he could not imagine what would be left of his life if he gave everything to the poor.
Jesus said: “How hard it will be for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:23) His disciples were amazed and wanted some clarification after all, “the blessing of the Lord makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.” (Proverbs 10:22) Jesus then made a very important distinction: “Children, how hard it is FOR THOSE WHO TRUST IN RICHES to enter the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:24). Jesus did not say rich people will not go to heaven. Rather, those who trust in their wealth will never enter heaven. The question is: Do I trust in my wealth or in God? And if I truly trust in God, why do I find it very hard to give?
3. Invest in Wisdom Because Wisdom is better than Riches.
Our first reading today says: “I prayed, and understanding was given me; I called on God, and the spirit of wisdom came to me. I preferred her to sceptres and thrones, and I accounted wealth as nothing in comparison with her.” (Wisdom 7:7-8). There are persons who can afford to lose everything they have today and within six months, they would get everything back. How? Wisdom! It is better to be wise than to have money.
Reduce the time you spend on entertainment every day. Read books. Read good books. Try to finish one book every single week (or 1 month at least). Invest in wisdom. Be committed to self-improvement in everything you do. No need to pursue money, you can never catch it. Pursue wisdom and money will pursue you with speed and velocity.
Here is a solid piece of advice: “Do not give your children money, instead teach them how to make money.” It is more important for your children to be wise than to be rich. Today, we have a lot of useless children roaming about our streets in very expensive cars living off on their parents’ sweat. Some even go as far as organizing the kidnapping of their own parents to extort money from them. You literally destroy your children when you spoil them in the name of “my children should not suffer the way I suffered.”
4. The Word of God is living and Active: It is Wisdom Freely Available for You.
As much as reading books is the best investment, the best book you need to grow in true wisdom is the Word of God. Our second reading tells us: “The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword.” (Hebrews 4:12). Do you desire to be the best version of yourself? Read the Bible every day.
While advising the Israelites not to forget God in times of prosperity, Moses said: “He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 8:3) Jesus would quote this same verse in response to Satan’s temptation of turning stones to bread. (Cf. Matthew 4:4). Just as you never let a day pass without eating, never let a day pass without meditating on the Word of God. Your life depends on it.
Never take any decision without first consulting with the Word of God. Always ask yourself, “Is what I am about to do in consonance with what God wants?” Do I still live by God’s commandments as contained in the Bible? Note that in responding to the young man, Jesus began by referring to commandments: “Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honour your father and mother.” (Mark 10:19).
5. Those Who Give Themselves Completely to God Never Go Unrewarded.
I recall something that happened many years ago. I was a seminarian then. I cannot exactly remember the occasion we went for but I remember that we were on procession with our cassocks and surplices in procession moving into the church for with hands folded and singing the entrance hymn. I heard a woman voice in the crowd who said: “Just look at these fine handsome boys, oh, what a waste!”
Do you feel called to leave everything behind to serve God as a priest or reverend sister? Do not look back. As Jesus said in today’s Gospel passage, no one who has left everything behind will go unrewarded. However, do not assume it will be an easy ride. There are persecutions, tough times and crosses to carry but there is always joy.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, help me find joy in serving you wholeheartedly. Amen.
Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (28th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Bible Study: Wisdom 7:7-11, Ps. 90:12-17, Hebrews 4:12-13, Mark 10:17-30)