Mission Society of the Philippines

Homilies

28th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME: THE WAY TO LIFE EVERLASTING

Mk 10: 17-30

 

SOME YEARS AGO, I had worked in a parish located in Long Island, New York. After I celebrated the weekday mass, a woman came to me and asked for a brief conversation. She said something about the gospel of that day, which is the same gospel that we heard today. She told me, “Father, I think the Church should change the wording of the gospel. It is rather pro-poor and it suggests that it is impossible for us rich to enter heaven.”

Indeed, the gospel passage deserves some explanation, as well as a clarification on what Jesus has said regarding the rich and riches. The question of the rich man was a good one. It shows that this person has tried himself to be good and he hopes to have a good future with God by attaining eternal salvation. This is a question that some people of today don’t ask anymore. In the prosperous countries, most people would think that what matters is life in this world; the ‘other world’ is not that important. This gospel leads us to muse on the road toward eternal life.

Firstly, we are told by Jesus that the road to eternal life is the observance of God’s commandments. These commandments can be summarized into two: love of God, and love of neighbor. It is expected of a Christian to grow in moral perfection and a life of virtue. The commandments of God lead us toward it. However, as we have seen in his conversation with the rich man, this could not be enough. So, let us go to the next point.

Secondly, Jesus wants his disciples to have a good and healthy attitude toward riches. The Fathers of the Church teaches us about the so-called “universal destination of goods.” According to their teaching, God is the source of all goods, and He gives these to humanity in order to be shared with anyone. Therefore, keeping these goods at the expense of the poor is morally evil. As children of God, we must be sharers of His gifts. That is why, in the name of social justice, it is a responsibility of the affluent countries to share their blessings to the poorer countries.

Thirdly, Jesus was not actually against the rich per se. To say that the kingdom of God is only exclusive for the poor, and it does not include the rich, that is not fair. The kingdom of God is open to everyone. The invitation of Jesus to enter God’s kingdom has been given or extended to everyone. When Jesus said, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God,” that should be understood in the context of the response of the rich man who went away sad because he found it difficult to sell and share his possessions to the poor. Jesus was not against the rich man himself, rather He was against the selfish attitude of that rich man.

At first, we could actually appreciate the rich man in the gospel, because he was actually in search for meaning in life. But when Jesus gave him the wisdom, he could not go farther anymore.

The first reading has also something for us. In life, we need some gifts of prudence and wisdom. This are the some of the important gifts that we should ask from God, so that we could be properly guided in our life. This text from the Book of Wisdom can be interpreted as Solomon pleading with God. He was given the two gifts: prudence and wisdom.

In our prayers to God, we can also be pleading with Him.  The first reading leads us also to think about ourselves: “What do I ask of God when I pray?”  Two things come to the fore: things that I want, and things that I need. The gifts of prudence and wisdom can help us on this. Certainly, God wants us to ask of Him what we really need. When we ask for what we really need, God listens to our prayer. AMEN.


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