Homily (Reflection) for the Twenty-Eighth Sunday of the Year (B) (14th October, 2018) on the Gospel
Wis 7:7-11;Ps 89:12-17 (R. V. 14);
Mk 10:17-30 or Mk 10:17-27.
A priest well-known in healing the family root ministry in this part of the country normally buries Sacramentals as part of the process. One day during class meeting, his classmates asked him why the acts that are contrary to Catholic theology. Before he could open his mouth, another jokingly added: “Or are they more effective when buried?” The third one added: “Or is there a new theology that we did not know of?” And in response, he said to them: “My brothers, I know that what I do is contrary to Catholic theology. Secondly, burying them does not in any way known to me makes them more effective. But I find myself between retaining the people by doing what they want and losing them to those who are ready to do even more just to have them. Unfortunately, I opt to retain them by giving them what they want.”
Topic: Do you really seek God?
One striking thing I have observed for some years during political campaigns is that every candidate that seeks the support of a group or an individual would like to be told: ‘O jebego’ meaning that he or she has won the race. Hence, to avoid avoidable problems all receive the same response, ‘O jebego’ from every group and individual visited. That seems to be the situation in today’s gospel where we see “a man ran up and knelt before him [Jesus], and asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’” (Mk 10:17). At the face level, this looks very much like a question seeking for what to do to make heaven.
According to prophet Isaiah the Messiah “shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear” (Is 11:3) but will “judge with equity” (Ps 75:2). When Jesus said to him out of love: “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me” (Mk 10:21) “he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions” (Mk 10:22). And this shows that his question was not actually looking for what to do to inherit eternal life but a confirmation that he has made it (O jebego).
The rich man’s obstacle is his riches. Hence Jesus said to his disciples,
How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! ...Children, how hard it is [for those who trust in riches] to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God (Mk 10:23, 24).
It is important to note that we all have many possessions like the rich man in today’s gospel because we all are enriched according to our individual abilities, cf. Matt 25:15. God expects us to offer back to Him all He has blessed us with. However, earthly riches have made many including those in leadership positions in the church forget everything about God. The bible tells us that those who trust in their riches will wither cf. Prov 11:28. Because where ones treasure is, there will his/her heart also, cf. Matt 6:21; Lk 12:34. The rich man like many is so comfortable in what he has in this world that he could not think of anything better. He could not imagine loosing ‘the heaven’ he has created for some other one. For him, should that be the way to heaven, it will be subject of another discussion, cf. Acts 17:32.
The Psalmist rightly admonishes us, “Put no confidence in extortion, set no vain hopes on robbery; if riches increase, set not your heart on them” (Ps 62:10) because riches do not last forever, cf. Prov 27:24. Hence for the prophet Jeremiah, the rich should not glory in his riches, cf. Jer 9:23. And in his first letter to his son Saint Paul wrote: “As for the rich in this world, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on uncertain riches but on God who richly furnishes us with everything to enjoy” (1Tim 6:17). Considering the truth, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1Cor 2:9) we should not be afraid of losing anything in this world including our lives for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. In the gospel we read this admonition, “Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your earthly possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home” (Lk 16:9, NLT). If we fail to make good use of the riches we are blessed with, they will rot, cf. Jas 5:2. And we shall render account of all these riches to God who blessed us thus, cf. Rom 14:12.
Finally, in the first letter of Saint Peter we read this advice to the church leaders, “give a shepherd’s care to the flock of God that is entrusted to you: watch over it, not simply as a duty but gladly, as God wants; not for sordid money, but because you are eager to do it” (1Pt 5:2, TNJB). Leaders in the church are called to lead the people for God and to God. Leaders are called to lead the people to where God wants and neither to where the leader/s want/s nor to where the people want to go. Neither Jesus changed the message for the rich man nor prophet Elisha for Naaman, cf. 2Kg 5:5-19 among so many examples in the bible. We, leaders ought to re-examine ourselves to see if we are still men of God we are called to be or men of ourselves or of money, or of rich men, and so on. And my dear brothers and sisters in the Lord, follow God and neither yourselves nor your heart desires.
Bible Reading: 2Kg 5:5-19; Is 11:1-16; Ps 52; Matt 25:14-30; 1Cor 2:1-16.
Thought for today: Do you really seek and serve God?
Let us pray: Our Lord and God help us to see the futility of not seeking you and help us seek and serve you alone – Amen.
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