Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Values govern people and society. They determine the ways of acting, living and being of persons and of society. Of the many values that people have, the economic, cultural, moral and religious values are prominent. The hierarchy (by priority) for the good of man and society should be the following: religious, moral, cultural and economic. To invert the order would be to focus on temporal things to the detriment of the growth of the human person and his relationship with God. If bodily beauty and fitness takes the rank over the moral and religious values, we will have great athletes and slim bodies to the detriment of values, like honesty, self-control, justice, dignity of persons, and fidelity. If the economic values disregard the other values, we will have fat banks, big malls, big and long highways, but small hearts to serve and short roads to love. Only by putting God on top of our doing, living and seeking His wisdom in all situations, can our being be meaningful and worthy of our Creator. The book of Wisdom tells us about seeking the Wisdom of God: “all good things together came to me in her company, and countless riches at her hands” (Wis 7:11).
The Gospel tells us that after Jesus told the young man to sell his properties and give to the poor, his “face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God” (Mk 10:22-23). Acquisition of wealth can dominate our lives. It can dampen our search for God who gives joy to our life. Wealth can distort our judgments and can also make us complacent and unconcerned of the plight of the voiceless and the needy. Wealth can lead us to indifference to the call to solidarity with the poor and lead us farther from God who gives lasting peace, security and happiness.
Wealth is not only of material things. It can also be one of relationships, of attitude and of virtues. And the negative of these is also true. We can be rich in unhealthy and sinful relationships, in arrogance and complains, in dishonesty and fraud, and others. It is in these situations that Jesus is addressing us today. These things are heavy and bulky. Jesus wants us to carry His yoke, one that is light and easy, and leads to everlasting life.
To pass through the eye of the needle is an expression that describes a person’s experience of difficulties and suffering to achieve something desirable. Jesus had to pass through the eye of the needle in His life, suffering, death and resurrection, to bring us back to the Father. In this life of uncertainties and difficulties, Jesus provides us with vision and strength through and in His Church. He restores life to us in the Eucharist. He presents Mary to be our Mother and great intercessor before Him. He brings us forgiveness and restores our relationship with Him through the blessing of the priest in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. He also presents to us the saints throughout the centuries as models toward eternal life. Moreover, He grants us wisdom and peace in prayer and in the reflection of the Scriptures for meaningful relationships and responsibilities.
To respond to the call of Jesus to follow Him, we need the humility to listen, the humility to accept His call, and the humility to offer our will and our time to God, and face more opportunities of growth in the life of Jesus, not only for ourselves, but also, and especially, on account of others.
Today Jesus is asking of you “one more thing.”
- Is it forgiving your spouse and deciding to be more tolerant of shortcomings?
- Is it abandoning your habit of criticizing others of their imperfections?
- Is it giving up your favorite sins that lead you away from your family?
- Is it offering a kind word or greeting to the person you do not like?
- Is it being kind and loving to your children and spouse?
- Is it being respectful and friendly to people you work with?
- Is it spending a little extra time in church to pray for others’ needs?
- Is it returning to the Sacrament of Reconciliation to seek God’s mercy?
- Is it living a little less luxuriously in consideration of the needy?
- Is it bringing back the name of Jesus to your family?
What is that “one more thing” that Jesus is asking of you today?
In his address to Bishops of the United States on April 16, 2008, Pope Benedict said: “Without God, who alone bestows upon us what we by ourselves cannot attain, our lives are ultimately empty. People need to be constantly reminded to cultivate a relationship with him who came that we might have life in abundance.”
Jesus is God’s Wisdom, God’s gift to all of us. Let us celebrate Jesus in the Eucharist as our number one value in life; He gives Himself to us as our food on our way to the Father. Let us furthermore renew our commitment to follow Him in the simplicity of living, of doing and of being.