O God, You have chosen the apostles to make disciples of all nations and by baptism and confirmation have called all of us to build up Your Holy Church.
Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
monk was sitting lost in meditation at a river bank when a novice put before him two beautiful and delicate jewels as a sign of his devotion.
The monk opened his eyes and picked up one jewel. But it rolled out of his hand and fell into the river. The novice jumped into the water immediately but he could not find it. He asked the monk to point out the spot where it fell. The monk picked up the second jewel and threw it into the river. He pointed and said, "Right there."
The monk then added, "Do not allow yourself to be owned by objects. Only then you will be free." Likewise, Jesus invited the rich man in today's Gospel to give all his possessions away. We know what happened. The man went away sad because he had many possessions. So, let us examine what would be our stand on such occasion.
Jesus does not want us to leave everything we have; he wants us to understand our unholy attachments to possessions. To discern this, we need the wisdom of the Spirit and that is what the author in the Book of Wisdom is seeking. And he considers it more valuable than any possessions.
We know that Jesus stayed often in the large, comfortable home of Martha and Mary outside Jerusalem. He never asked them to sell the mansion and share the dollars with the poor people of Jerusalem. He never asked the apostles to sell their costly fishing boats. We know He sailed in them often for business and pleasure. The history says He enjoyed parties and he ate with sinners and tax collectors, so He obviously enjoyed the good life whenever it came His way, but he had the prudence and Wisdom of the Spirit.
We may wonder why, then, Jesus made this extraordinary demand on the rich man? He had told him of the sins He did not commit – adultery, murder, etc. Jesus invites him to speak not of the evil he had avoided, but of the good he had done. The man's problem was spiritual poverty. He suffered from what we call "sleeping sickness of the soul."
Christ's teaching is not a system, whereby one avoids doing wrong. It is a way of life that impels us to do good, and then after a time, better.
This was the difference between the rich man and Martha and Mary. They were not merely avoiding sin; they were anxious to do good; they were giving away 10% of their wealth to the synagogue and charity; they were volunteering to help the poor; they held a welcoming hand to people on the run such as Jesus and His apostles; and they were not owned by their possessions, but used them for others.
Jesus felt disappointed when he saw the rich man went away sad. He saw in him what He sees in all of us – the potential of leaving our old lives and becoming new people. Like the novice with the jewels, the rich man in the Gospel had an inordinate love for his possessions. He was more fond of his own comforts than he was of others' needs. The Christ is not condemning the comfortable and affluent but, rather, the way they use their resources.
Let us examine how generous we are with our resources. It can be our time, talents and our possessions or money.
This piece, by and unknown author, describes what Jesus is condemning:
I was hungry and you formed a humanities club to discuss my hunger.
Remember the aphorism, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
So let us pray, “Lord teach us to be generous. Teach us to serve You as you deserve, to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labour and not to ask for reward, except to know that we are doing Your will.”