28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 15, 2006
Reflections on the Readings by Dennis Hankins
Readings: Wisdom 7:7-11; Psalm 90:12-17
Hebrews 4:12-13; Mark 10:17-30
Theme: That Which Endures
We are to have full affection for him who give us eternal life.
The rich young man addressed Jesus as a good teacher. Jesus responded as the incarnate Word of God. Jesus the Word read the thoughts and intentions of this young man’s heart. Indeed, no creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account.
Words of a church song say All to Jesus, I surrender; all to him I freely give. According to today’s Gospel, nothing given or given up is ever lost. However, we can be worse off than the poor when we allow our possessions to possess us. Jesus’ encounter with the rich young man highlights the difference between knowing what is right and doing what is right. An enlightened mind thinks more clearly with an enkindled heart. Everything will be clearer and dearer to us when we have full affection for him who gives us eternal life.
We will give an account for everything we have said and done. Better to start getting the account settled now by embracing the truth, defending the helpless, and befriending the poor. And don’t forget, the poor are not fully clothed or fully fed until you have prayed for their eternal well-being. Poverty of Christian witness is as inexcusable as neglecting the cry of the poor.
By all definitions, the rich young man had an impeccable and respectable life. From his youth up he had kept all of the commandments. No one would have thought that he lacked anything. Any of us in his shoes would not have ever dreamed that we needed any spiritual improvement. But he who loves us and therefore knows us calls us to have undivided affection for him in the face of the hungry, the thirsty, and the naked.
The rich young man’s countenance dropped at the words he heard from Jesus. He left the presence of Jesus very sad. How close he was to eternal life! Only one thing he lacked. Let us not fail to take St. Paul’s words to heart: Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?--unless indeed you are disqualified. (2Corinthians 3:5)
It should always be our prayer: “What must I do to inherit eternal life.” Even after many years of following the Lord, these words are a reminder to not take grace for granted and communion with the Holy Trinity as a given. This is not an invitation to fear. Rather we are called to honest reflection and prayerful determination to do whatever He tells us to do. The holy mother of God experienced those words before she spoke them.
As long as we remain enamored with the accumulation of riches the true riches of eternal life will remain outside of our possessions. If power, prestige and prominence hold our heart’s affection, it is little wonder how powerless we are before magistrates, princes and Cesaer St. Augustine said, “One who gives up both what one owns and what one desires to own, gives up the whole world.”
We are reminded that one cannot serve God and Mammon.
Let us pray: Dear Jesus, only you have the words of eternal life. Teach us to number our days aright that we may gain wisdom of heart. Our Lord, you were born in a borrowed stable, buried in a borrowed tomb. Help us to be satisfied with what we have and give what we can. May we love you without dissimulation. Amen
DISSIMULATION, n. [L., to make like; like.] The act of dissembling; a hiding under a false appearance; a feigning; false pretension; hypocrisy. Dissimulation may be simply concealment of the opinions, sentiments or purpose; but it includes also the assuming of a false or counterfeit appearance which conceals the real opinions or purpose. Dissimulation among statesmen is sometimes regarded as a necessary vice, or as no vice at all. Romans 12 Let love be without dissimulation. From the 1828 Noah Webster’s Dictionary.
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