October 14, 2018
(28th Sunday Ordinary Time, B)
“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 . . .” Wis_7:7-11
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. Heb_4:12-13
Jesus, looking at the rich man who inquired about how to gain Eternal life, 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, Mk_10:17-30
Advertisements on the Internet have a way of enticing us to want to find out more, to seek an answer for something we never asked for, in the first place, with a simple click or tap of our finger.
And we’ve all seen them . . .
“Secret to perfect health discovered, in fingernails by . . . (dot, dot, dot).”
“Don’t ever eat this food again . . . (dot, dot, dot).”
“New paradise uncovered in Missouri town of . . . (dot, dot, dot).”
Sometimes, but rarely, those ads are enlightening. And I say rarely, because it only took me a couple clicks before I decided to avoid them like the plague; because, more often than not, they’ll lead us straight to a hard-drive crash, or worse; by making that click, the advertising world now has us pegged for an insurmountable overflow of junk mail.
And so the question is:
“What are WE willing to risk, to sacrifice,
to find that answer?”
The rich man in Mark’s Gospel today, knew that God loved him. He was a faithful Jew who followed all the rules. And yet, he was intrigued by this concept of Eternal Life.
And he also believed that Jesus,
just might have the answer.
So he clicked on that proverbial button. But he never realized that he’d have to “pull OFF – all those fingernails,” or “stop eating food – all together,” or “descend 100-feet underground to find a ‘Paradise’ that only a bat would appreciate.”
You see, the man in this story was so tightly attached to his possessions, to personal control of his own life, that he was unwilling to sacrifice ANY of it – for something as mysterious, as metaphysical as Eternal Life.
And THIS, really IS –
What it’s all about, beloved!
We call it – FAITH!
The Writer of the Book of Wisdom attributes Solomon, King David’s son, to having been confronted with the same type of Choice.
Offered anything his imagination and his desire could perceive: be it wealth, or power, or personal health, or maybe even bringing his dog or his dad back to life, Solomon chose instead, that mysterious and metaphysical Gift of Wisdom.
Wisdom – different from self-enlightening Knowledge,
Wisdom, different from self-gratifying Understanding,
The Wisdom that King Solomon sought, was the ability to share, the ability to use – a little bit of his God – for the advancement and the unity of God’s Kingdom. The Wisdom that Solomon desired was not for his own self-gratification, but it was for the Good of his entire Nation.
It WAS the most unselfish
that Solomon could have possibly made.
And yet, we still might wonder, exactly how and why Solomon made that particular choice.
You see, behind it all, Solomon fell in love with Wisdom. Long before he was ever offered that ‘Gift of Choice’ by God, Solomon yearned for the Spirit of Wisdom!
The Psalmist sings: “As the deer yearns for streams of water, So my soul yearns for You, O Lord, my God!” (Ps 42:2)
Meanwhile, God knew exactly what was IN Solomon’s heart and mind, before His proposal was ever made; just as Jesus intimately knew the heart of the wayward rich man, and yet, loved him anyway; and just as God knows all of OUR deepest thoughts and desires, something we don’t always wear on our shirt-sleeves or on our ball caps.
For you see, beyond our masks of self-centered prayer; beyond our masks of volunteer work, done in order to make US look good to others; or worse, so that we can check-off another box on our heavenly resume, all for the sake of climbing one more step up Jacob’s ladder to heaven, despite the heads that get crushed under our feet in the process; beyond all of those masks, God KNOWS exactly what our motives are;
God knows our hearts.
And gazing through all those masks, God is seeking the Child among us who has as deep a love for Jesus and for others, as Solomon had for Wisdom and for His nation.
Are we those Children, brothers and sisters?
What are we willing to sacrifice, as Jesus said, “for His sake and for the sake of His Gospel” of Love? What are we willing to sacrifice that goes beyond just our surplus?
You see, sacrifice means that sometimes, it just might hurt a little, or maybe even a lot, like that two-edged sword, piercing between our joints and marrow. The sword of sacrifice that struck that rich man right between the eyes. Sacrifice means that, when we remove our masks of protection and security, we truly will be exposed; and exposure hurts.
Jesus didn’t JUST tell the rich man to give it all up, like St. Francis did. He then, asked him to FOLLOW . . .
“Now, having freed yourself from the chains of wealth, NOW, let’s walk around town in rags.”
“Now, come with me, as we endure the taunts and the persecutions of the Pharisees.”
“And if we can survive that, NOW, are we still willing to DIE for this cause?”
What’s holding US back, brothers and sisters?
What is it – that we’re we NOT willing to give up, and that God is already aware of?
You see, He’ll give us all kinds of opportunities to grow, to make our changes – one little step at a time. And He’ll even help us if we ask for the impossible. But, just like Solomon and all of his Wisdom, we first have to Fall in Love with Jesus.
We have to Fall in Love with the Jesus who loved us so incredibly much that He left His Paradise home to take-on our sinful flesh in a cave, on a dirty bed of straw.
We have to Fall in Love with the Jesus who forgave, even as the sword was piercing His heart on the cross.
The Jesus who lovingly endured all of our ignorance, our simple mindedness, and our stubborn and arrogant natures.
The Jesus who healed the cast-out lepers, who welcomed the stranger, who dined with the enemy, and who loved the dependency, and the trust, and the innocence of little children,
The Jesus who ate, and pooped, and laughed and cried; who sweat and bled and spit, right along with the best and worst of all of us.
We have to fall in love with the Jesus who died and rose in order to show us that, without a doubt, there really IS such a mystical and metaphysical thing as Eternal Life.
The Jesus who still feeds us with Himself, every week and every day, IF . . . (dot, dot, dot)
If we make that Choice of –
Falling in Love with Him!
jmp homily 10-14-18
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