1st Reading: Wisdom 7:7-11; 2nd Reading: Hebrews 4:12-13; Gospel: Mark 10:17-30
THEME: TRUE WISDOM: OUR GUIDE TOWARDS HEAVENLY RICHES.
Our world is a multifarious environs, where many people live below acceptable living standards. Many people struggle daily so as to achieve their desired dreams of becoming wealthy or influential personalities in the society. Invariably, wealth seems like an end goal to happiness for some people, because being wealthy would mean for them, the end of their undesirable living conditions. Consequently, they become so engrossed in their pursuit of earthly possessions, which are transient, but have no time for God (the source of true happiness and wisdom).
In today’s GOSPEL, Jesus Christ gave a startling proclamation of the radical demands of the Kingdom of God, and the utter impossibility of attaining it through human efforts, except by the grace of God. Surprisingly, His response to the rich man’s question: “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” That, “No one is good, except God alone”, seemed to have engendered a conundrum among the disciples, concerning His divinity. However, He only wanted to correct an impression: that, the preacher must never draw people’s attention to himself or herself, but to God, so as to avoid self-glorification (Ps. 115:1).
Moreover, Jesus Christ applauded the rich man for having observed God’s commandment right from his youth, but still, wanted him to be free from any hindrance towards gaining eternal life. Hence, He asked him to go and distribute his riches to the poor, and then come and follow Him. Unfortunately, the rich man was infuriated, and then went away. This made Jesus Christ to exclaim: “How hard it will be for those who have riches to enter the Kingdom of God…it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than rich people to enter God’s Kingdom (Mark 10:23-25)!”
Meanwhile, Jesus Christ is not saying here that acquisition of earthly riches, which are also gifts from God (James 1:17), is bad in itself, but to detach ourselves from them; always putting them at the service of the poor, willingly and generously, and not to allow them become our obstacles towards gaining eternal life.
Certainly, the necessary condition for following Christ more closely is total submission to His precepts, and detachment to earthly riches, which often tend to distract us from actualizing God’s purpose for our lives; for no man can serve two masters (God & wealth) at the same time (Matt. 6:24). But, for us to achieve this, we need True Wisdom, which King Solomon acquired in the FIRST READING. It was an answer to his fervent prayers, and he valued it more than the riches and honour of this world. For him, Wisdom (a gift of the Holy Spirit), is the breath of the power of God, an unending radiance, a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty, which brings with it, the really good things for humanity’s genuine welfare.
Unfortunately, many people lack True wisdom, and that is why they are overambitious, jealous, selfish, hateful, unforgiving, deceitful; and always craving for wealth at all cost, as if they will remain in this world forever. This is the reason St. James said, “Anyone who lacks wisdom, must ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given” (James 1:5).
Remarkably, according to St. James, True wisdom is the power to discern truth, and practical knowledge of the deep things of God; a knowledge turned into humble actions in the decisions and personal relationships of everyday life. It is pure, peaceable, gentle, obedient, merciful and faithful (James 3:17). So, a wise person learns to give things their proper importance and value, and is able to make choices according to the plan of God, which can be known through a deeper intimacy with God. He or she always forgives those who have offended him or her, no matter the gravity of their offences, in order to be free from any heavy burden, which may prevent him or her from gaining entrance to God’s kingdom.
In the SECOND READING, we are warned to always live, act and think wisely as true Christians, if we want to gain eternal happiness. Since our secret thoughts and motives are always known to the omniscient God, who will be our judge on our day of reckoning.
Finally, as Christians, we should note that:
- The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Provb. 1:7). So, a truly wise person is one who is always submissive to God, and avoids self-glorification.
- True Wisdom can only be gotten through constant studying of the sacred scriptures (Spiritual Sword) and fervent prayers. These will make us to be closer to God, to always know His will and the guidelines on how to actualize them.
- Too much acquisition of earthly riches do not guarantee true happiness. Therefore, we must always travel light, and not allow our earthly riches to come in conflict with the Will of God. But always be ready to sacrifice our resources (time, energy, talents, money, etc.) for others.
- To always be patient in sufferings and challenges for the sake of the Kingdom of God. Not to be ensnared by the attractions of this world, its wealth, position of honour and pleasures.
- Since we offend God daily by our sins, yet He forgives us, and wipes them away when we repent, so, we must always let go and forgive others from our hearts (Matt. 6:12-15).
Therefore, I pray that the Almighty God, through the Power of the Holy Spirit, may grant you angelic wisdom so as to always discern the truth; and the grace to detach from earthly riches, and always use them in helping the poor, for the sake of the Heavenly Kingdom, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen!!!
Peace of Christ be with you…
Rev. Fr. Ben Okala, C.S.Sp.