HOMILY FOR THE TWENTY EIGHTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR B (10/10/2021)

HOMILY FOR THE TWENTY EIGHTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR B (10/10/2021)

Wisdom 7:7-11; Psalm 90; Hebrews 4:12-13; Mark 10:17-30

*********************************

There are three homily notes here and a video; scroll down the page. You can equally press the red bell button at the left hand side of the page to subscribe so that you can always receive notification whenever there is an upload. Leave us with your comments and suggestions or chat us through the live chat button.  

********************************

FR. DANIEL EVBOTOKHAI

CHOOSING ETERNITY

Today’s readings present us with the theme of “choice”.  Every season we make some choices and decisions. Some are easy and at times, some of them can be extremely difficult. However, the basic choice a Christian can make is to choose God over and above others. If we don’t choose well in this life we cannot enter the Kingdom of God. For this reason, in the first reading, Solomon compares gold, silver and other precious objects to wisdom and finds them to be insignificant. So he chose wisdom as his greatest possession. What is your greatest possession? Gold or salvation? Gold or God? The character of the man in the gospel reading today leaves us with so much for reflection.

Wisdom is better than gold! Your riches will be useless ‘if you no get sense’. The man in the gospel was very rich yet Jesus says to him “you lack one thing”. He lacks wisdom. Wisdom is the ability to make good judgment. Through wisdom a man can possess riches but that same wisdom is what makes riches not to possess a man. To lack wisdom is to be extremely poor. Therefore, do not be so poor that the only thing you have is money. Precisely because of this we have the prayers from today’s psalm saying “Teach us to number our days that we may gain wisdom of heart. Without wisdom we may think that earthly life is forever.

This unnamed man came to Jesus to find out about eternal life. “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” This question shows the man’s burden. What are the burdens of the rich? What are the burdens of the poor? Do we contemplate life after our sojourn on earth? Do politicians think about eternity? Again, this man came to Jesus. Who do we go to when we are confused? Who is our teacher? Who guides your choices? What is your pastor telling you about eternity? To choose well go to the Good Teacher.

This man came to seek eternal life. Most times when we go to Jesus we are so concerned about material things. When pastors preach it is all about material growth; who is pursuing who and who will kill who; it is all about the devil; family inheritance and prosperity. We must learn to balance our Christian struggles; while we pray for God’s will to be done in our lives and on earth we must predominantly pray for eternal life.

Paraphrasing Jesus’ words to the man; Jesus says to him “To inherit eternal life; disinherit material goods.” The same applies to us; to inherit eternal life we must disinherit material goods. When the man heard this words of Jesus the gospel says “his countenance fell and he went away sorrowful.” Oftentimes, the gospel challenges us to do the same but we are scared of losing our possessions; position and power. If we don’t resist the world we cannot follow Jesus. We cannot serve two masters. If we must inherit eternal life we must disinherit earthly life. 

Is this possible? The disciples asked this same question and Jesus said to them “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.” Our God is a God of possibilities. The second reading tells us that the word of God is alive and active. The words “With God all things are possible” are not dry words or historical maxim but an active words in the lives of those who believe.

Fr. Evaristus Okeke

STRIVE TO INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD

The Word of God is living and active (Heb.4:12)

In the gospel reading of last Sunday, Jesus started his discussion on the entrance into the kingdom of God when he scolded the disciples for preventing little children come to Him. In that narrative, Jesus announced that the kingdom of God belongs to such little children. What does it mean to be a little child that can enter the kingdom of heaven? What exact feature of little children is Jesus recommending to us who want to enter into eternal life? These and similar questions are answered in the gospel reading of today.

A man ran up to Jesus and asked what he needed to do in order to inherit eternal life. It is not clear what the intention of this man was in asking this question. Was he trying to demonstrate self-righteousness or was he truly wanting to know? Whatever be the case, the question is a recommended one. Like little children, we need to continually look up to our heavenly Father for detailed instructions about everything that concerns us. A Christian who wants to inherit eternal life must never think and act as though he knows it all; he must continue to seek the face of God so that all his actions and inactions are prompted by the Spirit of God. The day we begin to think that we have known it all, that day, we become prodigal.

When Jesus listed the commandments to this man, the man answered that he had observed them since his youth. But notice that the commandments were about what should not be done “thou shalt not”. So, the man had been able to live his life not doing what he was not supposed to do. He has been withdrawn from doing evil. This is good but not enough. So, even though Jesus loved him for his honest response, Jesus had more to tell him. Obedience is always two sided: what must not be done and what must be done. We are not fully obedient just because we have not acted evil. We can be guilty of disobedience if we have refused to do good or remained silence in the face of evil and persecution. Although it is not easy to be obedient to God’s law, it is easier to keep away from doing wrong than to be at the forefront in doing good.

To be actively doing good will necessarily demand a huge level of sacrifice from the actor. It will demand our time, treasure and whatever we hold dear. It will also demand our patience and consistency when our good is misunderstood, unappreciated and repaid with evil. It demands martyrdom in every sense of the word. Consequently, many Christians find themselves in the shoe of this man in today’s gospel reading who try to live the Christian life without embracing martyrdom.

Jesus categorically teaches us that such dichotomy is not possible and even where it seem to working, it is merely hypocrisy. If we want to be perfect, we will have to give up all that we hold dear for the good of others and for the sake of God alone. Jesus is not practically asking us to sell everything we have and give the proceed to the poor; that may even be easier to do. Instead, Jesus demands that we do not hesitate to do whatever good He has given us the capacity to do. He is also demanding that we do not act below our capacity when doing good. A good Christian should never have the attitude of “it is not my business”. Everything is the business of a Christian because a Christian can do something about everything.

The challenge with living a sacrificial life is that as humans, we always want to plan and store for the future. But a sacrificial life will demand that we use up what we would have kept for our future use, to solve the present problem of another. This is difficult and that was why the man’s countenance fall and he walked away sorrowfully. He must have imagined: what becomes of his children and grandchildren for whom he is acquiring wealth or what becomes of him in the statues or prestige (chieftaincy title, doctorate degree, position and fame in the Church, and so on) he wanted to attain when he flaunts some of his wealth.

You see that it is not only those who have wealth that are caught up in such mentality. Humans are generally tempted to act selfishly for sake of the plans for their future. From the first reading, we see that such mentality is utter foolishness. The greatest asset we can acquire is Wisdom. The first reading noted that this wisdom is better and greater than wealth, gold, health, beauty and every other treasure we may hold dear. It noted that through this wisdom, all other good things come to the one possessing it including uncounted wealth. This Wisdom is nothing but the kingdom of God; because the Lord himself said: seek ye first the kingdom of God and righteousness and every other thing will be given to you (Matt.6:33).

The best future we should commit ourselves to is the future of inhering the kingdom of God. Beloved, it is pertinent at this time that we ask ourselves: in what area of my life am I being selfish? To what extent do I give priority to the kingdom of God in the way I use the life and time that God has given me? It is true that, like the man in today’s gospel reading, you have been associated with some good deeds for a long time now; but then you must consider what is that remaining good that you still lack?

The Word of God is capable of helping us discover what we still lack so that we can do the needful. That is why the second reading described it as a two-edged sword that pierces to our deepest part. It is sad to observe that some Christians only see the Word of God as a weapon for destroying their enemies and a compendium of God’s blessings upon their lives. They never want to be associated with its sword-like nature that seeks to purge us of our evil deeds and inclinations. So the preacher who exposes the sword-like nature of God’s Word is said to be “looking for trouble”. Know this, the kingdom of God belongs to God; if we inherit it, we must be ready to allow God’s Word purge us. God Bless You!

Fr. Paul Oredipe

“Teacher,  What Good Must I Do … ?” 
Christ and the answer to the question about morality  –  Total Detachment and Renunciation

 Our Gospel passage today is very dramatic and also rich indeed.  Let us follow it as we follow events and life dramas. 

The question which the rich young man puts to Jesus of Nazareth is one which rises from the depths of his heart.  It is an essential and unavoidable question for the life of every man, for it is about the moral good which must be done, and about eternal life.  The young man senses that there is a connection between moral good and the fulfilment of his own destiny. 

People today need to turn to Christ once again in order to receive from Him the answer to their questions about what is good and what is evil.  Christ is the Teacher, the Risen One who has life in Himself and who is always present in His Church and in the world. 

If we therefore wish to go to the heart of the Gospel’s moral teaching and grasp its profound and unchanging content, we must carefully inquire into the meaning of the question asked by the rich young man in the Gospel and, even more, the meaning of Jesus’ reply, allowing ourselves to be guided by Him.  Jesus, as a patient and sensitive teacher, answers the young man by taking him, as it were, by the hand, and leading him step by step to the full truth. 

To ask about the good, in fact, ultimately means to turn towards God, the fullness of goodness.  Jesus shows that the young man’s question is really a religious question, and that the goodness that attracts and at the same time obliges man has its source in God, and indeed is God himself.  God alone is worthy of being loved “with all one’s heart, and with all one’s soul, and with all one’s mind” (Mt 22:37).  He is the source of man’s happiness. 

The statement that “There is only one who is good” thus brings us back to the “first tablet” of the commandments, which calls us to acknowledge God as the one Lord of all and to worship him alone for his infinite holiness (Ex 20:2-11).  The good is belonging to God, obeying him, walking humbly with him in doing justice and in loving kindness (Mic 6:8).  Acknowledging the Lord as God is the very core, the heart of the Law, from which the particular precepts flow and towards which they are ordered. 

But if God alone is the Good, no human effort, not even the most rigorous observance of the commandments, succeeds in “fulfilling” the Law, that is, acknowledging the Lord as God and rendering him the worship due to him alone (Mt 4:10).  This “fulfillment” can come only from a gift of God: the offer of a share in the divine Goodness revealed and communicated in Jesus, the one whom the rich young man addresses with the words “Good Teacher” (Mk 10:17; Lk 18:18).  What the young man now perhaps only dimly perceives will, in the end, be fully revealed by Jesus Himself in the invitation: “Come, follow me” (Mt 19:21). 

The answer he receives about the commandments does not satisfy the young man, who asks Jesus a further question (as in Matthew’s version).  “I have kept all these; what do I still lack?” (Mt 19:20).  It is not easy to say with a clear conscience “I have kept all these,” if one has any understanding of the real meaning of the demands contained in God’s Law. 

And yet, even though he is able to make this reply, even though he has followed the moral ideal seriously and generously from childhood, the rich young man knows that he is still far from the goal.  It is his awareness of this insufficiency that Jesus addresses in his final answer.  Conscious of the young man’s yearning for something greater, which would transcend a legalistic interpretation of the commandments, the Good Teacher invites him to enter upon the path of perfection.  “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me” (Mt 19:21). 

We have to ask ourselves.  What is my attitude to things, to possessions?  Who is number one in my life?  Where is my trust and security?  In Christ or in the risky ‘security’ provided by my possessions?  Our whole happiness in this life and the next depends on our answer to these questions. 

The young man in today’s Gospel passage went away quiet and sad from Christ because he has been possessed by his possessions.  He is chained, hooked and bogged down.  How are we going to leave this assembly today: sad or happy to be counted among the chosen ones of God? 

It is not finished yet.  Jesus added further: When you have done this, you will then have treasure in heaven.  After that come and follow me:  “Come, follow me” (Mt 19:21) 

It is Jesus Himself who takes the initiative and calls people to follow Him.  His call is addressed first to those to whom He entrusts a particular mission, beginning with the Twelve; but it is also clear that every believer is called to be a follower of Christ (Acts 6:1). 

Following Christ is thus the essential and primordial foundation of Christian morality.  Just as the people of Israel followed God who led them through the desert to wards the Promised Land (Ex 13:21), so every disciple must follow Jesus, towards whom he is drawn by the Father himself (Jn 6:44). 

Jesus asks us to follow Him and to imitate Him along the path of love, a love which gives itself completely to the brethren out of love for God.  “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 15:12).  The word “as” requires imitation of Jesus and of his love, of which the washing of feet is a sign.  “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you” (Jn 13:14-15).  Jesus’ way of acting and His words, His deeds and His precepts constitute the moral rule of Christian life. 

Following Christ is not an outward imitation, since it touches man at the very depths of his being.  Being a follower of Christ means becoming conformed to Him who became a servant even to giving Himself on the Cross (Phil 2:5-8). 

The conclusion of Jesus’ conversation with the rich young man is very poignant.   “When the young man heard this, he went away sorrowful, for he had many possessions” (Mt 19:22).  Not only the rich man, but the disciples themselves are taken aback by Jesus’ call to discipleship, the demands of which transcend human aspirations and abilities.  “When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astounded and said, ‘Then who can be saved?”‘ (Mt 1-9:25).  But the Master assures them and refers them to God’s power: “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Mt 19:26). 

To imitate and live out the love of Christ is not possible for man by his own strength alone.  He becomes capable of this love only by virtue of a gift received.  As the Lord Jesus receives the love of His Father, so He in turn freely communicates that love to His disciples.  “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love” (Jn 15:9).  Christ’s gift is His Spirit, whose first “fruit” (Gal 5:22) is charity.  “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us” (Rom 5:5). 

Brothers and sisters in Christ, Jesus’ conversation with the rich young man continues, in a sense, in every period of history, including our own.  The question: “Teacher, what good must I do to have eternal life?” arises in the heart of every individual, and it is Christ alone who is capable of giving the full and definitive answer. 

Jesus is alive today and He is calling His disciples – the same Jesus who walked the roads of Palestine.  We cannot let slip the wonderful opportunity He offers us.  “If today you hear his voice, harden not your heart.” 

May God bless us and grant us the greatest wisdom which lies in finding Jesus Christ, the wisdom which Solomon prayed for in the First reading – that to possess Christ is to possess everything and that we commit the greatest folly whenever we choose some worldly good in place of Christ, be it honour, wealth, good health, anything at all.  Nothing is worth more than the Master. 

And in the words of our response today: “May the Lord fill us with His love so that we can sing for joy, sing on our lips and much more with our lives.  Through Christ our Lord. 

In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Fr Galadima Bitrus (OSA)

THE WORD OF GOD AS EFFECTIVE SAVING WISDOM

The 1st Reading comes from the book of Wisdom 7:7-11. Greek and Latin manuscripts of the book entitled it “The Wisdom of Solomon”, in light of the royal claims of the implicit author in 9:7-8 that God chose him to be king and judge over his sons and daughters, asking him also to build a temple on his holy mountain and an altar on the city where he dwells.

These claims correspond to those of king Solomon who was tasked with building the temple for the Lord, instead of his father David who had shed too much blood since he fought many wars. As we read in 1 Kgs 5:3.5: “You know that David my father could not build a house for the name of the Lord his God because of the warfare with which his enemies surrounded him, until the Lord put them under the soles of his feet…; and so I purpose to build a house for the name of the Lord my God, as the Lord said to my father, ‘your son, whom I will set upon your throne in your place, shall build the house for my name” (see also 1 Kgs 6 and 8).

The ideas in the book also reflect the celebrated wisdom of Solomon (see 1 Kgs 3) but the composition of the book, written originally in Greek, has been dated to the intertestamental period (between the 1st century BC and the 1st century AD). Like other books originally written in Greek, Wisdom does not form part of the Canon of the Hebrew Bible but forms part of the Canon of the Jewish Greek Bible (called the Septuagint or LXX) which early Christianity inherited.

The passage in our 1st Reading (7:7-11) forms part of a longer unit running through chapters 6-9 of the book, dedicated to the exaltation of wisdom. Having acknowledged the mortal human nature of the king (7:1-6), the royal author underscores the divine origin of wisdom and its incomparable value. For the author, therefore, discernment or practical wisdom (phrónēsis) and the spirit of wisdom (pneȗma sophías) are divine gifts he prayed for and received from God (7:1).

As a king, the staffs/scepters (skḗptrōn) and the thrones (trónōn) (which are symbols of authority), as well as wealth (ploȗton), were important, but he preferred or valued above them all discernment or the spirit of wisdom (cf. also 1 Kgs 3:5-15), knowing that to offer leadership, he needed not the possession of power or riches but a clear sense of right and wrong, fair-mindedness and vision, attributes which he clearly knew, cannot be obtained by power or acquired by money but are endowed by the creator, for which he rightly judged, can be prayed for and freely given.

He understood that in reality, he needed not to pray for wealth or influence, knowing that if only he possessed the right qualities of a king or leader which he prayed for, then it would be within his reach to create the wealth and the influence. As he recounts in the last verse of our passage, “All good things came to me along with her [wisdom] and in her hands uncounted wealth” (7:11).

The 1st Reading, therefore, is a lesson for all who rule and have the responsibility to pronounce judgment and take decisions on behalf of many who are under their trust, to stop chasing after riches and influence, as these do not make a good leader. In fact, Scripture says, “In his riches man lacks wisdom; he is like the beasts that perish” (Psalm 49:12.20). Let them, instead, invest their energy and time in cultivating and praying for a clear sense of right and wrong, fair-mindedness and vision. With these, all good things will follow in due course. As Jesus would say, “Seek first his kingdom and his justice [or righteousness] and all these things shall be yours in addition” (Mt 6:33).

The 2nd Reading is from the letter to the Hebrews 4:12-13. The passage concludes a long meditation on Psalm 95, which began in Heb 3:7. Psalm 95 calls upon the people of Israel to come and worship the Lord their king, and not be like the generation of Israelites who were punished with forty years of wandering in the wilderness, for provoking the Lord to anger on account of their stubbornness and refusal to believe or heed God’s Word at Meribah and Massah.

In the wilderness of Sin, between Elim and Sinai, the Israelites had murmured against Moses and Aaron. Reminiscing life in Egypt, they accused Moses and Aaron of bringing them out of Egypt to kill them with hunger in the wilderness. God intervened, providing them with manna which they ate throughout their forty years journey to the promised land (see Exod 16).

Immediately after this account, there arose a water crisis and the people again raised a quarrel against Moses. Scripture says, “And the people quarreled (wayyāreb) against Moses and said, ‘Give us water to drink.’ And Moses said to them, ‘Why do you quarrel (in Hebrew, “mâ terîbȗn”, whence the term “merîbah”) against me? Why do you put to test (“mâ tenassȗn”, from which derives the term “māssâ”) the Lord? (Exod 17:2). From these two questions, the place was nicknamed Meribah and Massah, essentially meaning, the place of quarrel and testing.

In this way, the author of the letter to the Hebrews reminds us of the need to listen to the Word of the Lord so that we do not suffer the punishment of divine abandonment in the wilderness of life on account of the stubbornness of our hearts.

The passage, therefore, celebrates the efficacy of the Word of God, enumerating its characteristics: The Word of God is living (Gk, zōn) and energḗs (lit. energetic; effective). Isaiah captures this sense of the effectiveness of the Word of God saying: “For as the rain or snow drops from heaven and does not return but soaks the earth and makes it bring forth vegetation, yielding seed for sowing and bread for eating, so is the Word that comes out from my mouth: it does not come back to me unfulfilled but performs what I purpose; it achieves what I sent it to do” (Isa 55:10-11). The efficacy of the Word of God is also demonstrated in its creative power in Gen 1, bringing order and content to a formless void, and from nothing bringing things into being.

The Word of God is also sharper (tomôteros) than any double edge sword and penetrating (diiknoȗmenos) as far as the point of separation between the soul (psychḗ) and the spirit (pneúma), as well as between the joints (harmôn) and the marrow (muelôn). Finally, the Word of God is able to discern (kritikòs, from where we get the English “critical”) the thoughts and insights of the heart.

In biblical anthropology, we know of the existence of the soul and the spirit. In Lk 1:46-47, Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my saviour.” Also, in 1 Thes 5:23, Paul blessed the Thessalonians saying, “May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely, and may your spirit and soul and body be kept whole and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

So, clearly, there is a point of distinction between the soul and the spirit. Some try to explain the soul as the mortal life principle which is common to humans, animals and plants and perishes at death, while the spirit is the immortal life principle, which only humans possess and returns to God after death.

We do not fully understand how one is separate from the other or precisely at what point they divide; so we often use them interchangeably. But the Word of God is penetrating and discerning enough to know the point of division between them. Nothing escapes its discerning ability. Therefore, the reading concludes by making it clear in v.13 that before God, “no creature is hidden but everything is bare and exposed to his eyes.” We cannot escape God’s gaze nor can our thoughts, words or actions escape his discernment.

As Psalm 139 says: “Where can I escape from your spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I descend to the underworld, you are there too. If I take wing with the dawn to come to rest on the western horizion, even there your hand will be guiding me; your right hand will be holding me fast. If I say, ‘surely the darkness will conceal me, the night will cover me, yet even darkness is not dark for you; night is as light as day” (139:7-12).

In the Gospel Reading (Mk 10:17-30), we come across a quite successful man, with both secular and religious credentials to show for his success. Luke’s account calls him “the rich ruler” (Lk 18:18) instead of Mark’s “one who had many possessions” (Mk 10:22) or Matthew’s “young rich man” (Mt 19:22), which gives us a hint about the relationship between the rich and the rulers, the wealthy and the powerful: they are often two sides of the same coin.

I suspect in coming to Jesus the man expected some accolades, something like, “You are doing well; you are a successful businessman and you do not neglect your religious duties, a rare kind of a businessman; My disciples and I have heard about you and are proud of you.” So, in excitement and perhaps full of these expectations, he comes to Jesus, kneels before him and says to him, “Good teacher [in Greek, “didáskale agathé”], what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (10:17b).

Jesus could have answered him straight away but it would seem his addressing Jesus as “good teacher” smelled of some suspicious intent. It may have been an exaggerated show of respect or sycophancy. Everybody, including his own disciples, addressed Jesus as teacher (“didáskale”) in all the Gospels (cf. Mk 4:38; 9:17.38; 10:20.35; 12:14.19.32; 13:1; Mt 8:19; 12:38; 22:16.24.36; Lk 3:12; 7:40; 9:38; 10:25; 11:45; 12:13; 19:39; 20:21; 20:28.39; 21:7; Jn 1:38; 8:4; 20:16), and this was respectful enough. It is only this man who adds the adjective, “good” (agathé”) in addressing Jesus but soon changes to the normal address, teacher, (“didáskale”; cf. 10:20) when Jesus detected his sycophancy and made him understand he did not need that ego massage.

Here leaders especially have something to learn: to be mindful of sycophancy. The dictionaries define the sycophant as “a person who acts obsequiously towards someone important in order to gain advantage”. In other words, the sycophant acts towards you with excessive obedience, in a servile manner. What they do and what they say is hardly genuine but a ploy to gain an advantage. Beware, therefore, of them!

Nonetheless, Jesus still admired his hard work, especially with regard to being a committed Jew, observing all the positive (explicitly commanded) precepts. It was unfortunate, however, that his utilitarian relationship with God, reflected already badly in his initial sycophant move towards Jesus, soon proved to be even more systemic and not just a reflex.

He seems to have pursued perfection of observing all the commandments, not as an expression of profound love towards God and neighbour which is the spirit of all the commandments (cf. Mk 12:29-31; Mt 22:37-40; see also Lev 19:18; Deut 6:5; Rom 13:8-10; Gal 5:14; Jas 2:8), but to fulfill the letter of the law in view of probably realizing just one more of his ambitions: not to be left behind on the journey to the privileged Island called the kingdom of God.

Otherwise, how could he have become so sad and so disheartened for being asked: “that which you have, sell” (“hosa echeis pôlēson”), not all (“pánta”) which you have but apparently something of his many possessions; for Scripture says, he had “many” (“polla”) possessions.

Apparently, the man had professionalized with great success the art of getting more and more honours and achievements but had taken no lesson whatsoever in the art of letting go of something. So, he took it very personally with Jesus who tried to suggest that it was also success to decrease in something that another may increase, to become less wealthy that the poor may become better off. Losing anything for any reason was intolerable and very offensive to him.

Clearly, such kind of philosophy is incompatible with Jesus’ philosophy and indeed incompatible with the values of the kingdom of heaven which require, as Jesus would teach only a few verses later, that “whoever would be great among you must be your servant and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all” just as “the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mk 10:43-45).

This man was neither willing to serve, nor to be last, nor to give that which he has from his many possessions as a ransom for the poor; certainly, he won’t allow himself to even hear that those who wish to enter the kingdom are even required to give their life, if need be. Otherwise, they are not fit for the kingdom of heaven. Certainly, he found it difficult to fit in to the values of the kingdom of heaven but was more than fitting for the kingdom of the world where cunning and sycophancy are real investments.

Jesus was full of pity for him and he saw how sad he was just hearing the suggestion that he should give up something of the many possessions he had to share with those who did not have. It was for Jesus too, a firsthand experience of how hard (“pôs duskólōs”) it can be for people with possessions to give up something of it, knowing that letting go, sacrifice, and solidarity with those who do not have is at the heart of the values of the kingdom of heaven and a key factor on who gets to enter it and who fails to enter (cf. Mt 25:31-46), whereas this man and people like him have known only the logic of getting more and more and calculating only how richer they have become.

The interaction of Jesus with his disciples confirms that the problem here is not having possessions because almost everybody has some possession, hence the disciples, probably misunderstanding Jesus’s metaphor asked, “then who can be saved?” And Jesus said, it is not impossible with God (Mk 10:23-27).

Then he concluded emphasizing the logic of letting go: anybody who would let go father or mother or children or lands for the sake of the Gospel will certainly receive, among persecutions, a hundredfold of all these things both in this life and in the next. This kind of logic that is heaven-looking (the wisdom of the Word of God) is not comforting to the man who is earth-bound. It makes him sad, and if he does not go away spatially, his heart can go away even farther from this teaching of Jesus.

May the Word of the Lord be our wisdom and our guide!

 

 

 

admin

Fr. Daniel Evbotokhai is a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Auchi, Edo State, Nigeria. He was ordained October 20th, 2018. He offers his daily homilies, talks and articles that bother on, faith, theology, morals and many other burning issues in religion and politics. Fr. Daniel writes poems, inspirational quotes and clips.

Leave a Reply