Wisdom 7:7-11; Ps 90:12-17; Hebrews 4:12-13; Mark 10:17-30
Holy Spirit, please fill us with more of your wisdom.
Worldly wisdom according to "Webster’s New World Dictionary," #4 is "a wise plan or course of action." In business this leads to a successful, productive and comfortable life style. In Biblical times this kind of wisdom was written by scribes in royal courts like Egypt. Yet don’t get too close to the Pharaoh because when he dies you will die with him so he has your gifts for his comfortable afterlife. We see this very much in our commercialism and relativism today or you might say “political correctness. “This comes from a pagan and political worldview. Disciples of Jesus are not called to this.
In Jewish scriptures, the Wisdom literature books describe a God- dimension to that good living. In Jesus’ time, for a Jew to be more well to do or wealthy, was the result of a good and wise way of living. Jesus often took objection to that way of thinking, as in Mark’s section today.
Commentators see three areas in these pronouncement stories. All of them relate to worldly possessions:
a) the rich man (vs17-22)b) a teaching on wealth and the reign of God (vs 23-27)c) and assurances to those who surrender possessions (vs28-30)
I don’t want to come down on those who have a lot of money. Some of that could be God’s gifts and their own ingenuity in business transactions as long as they were not cheating their poor workers in wages, etc. The question would be, “What are they doing with that wealth? How are they sharing it to help some who are very poor, rescue the unborn and respect our planet?”
We don’t earn heaven
The rich young man was basing his salvation on obeying the Ten Commandments. We don’t earn heaven by legalism. Salvation is a pure gift of God. We need to accept Jesus and the atonement he won for us, forgiving our sins, by his death of the cross. That brings us into his new kingdom. Then we need to follow Jesus’ basic principles of loving God fully, those closest to us, spouse, children and family, and our neighbors and we love ourselves.
My sense in praying over these pronouncements is that there are layers of people who follow Jesus. You have the apostles who are closest. Then there are two larger groups of men and women who are disciple and students. They get the core teachings about the good news of Jesus. As they evangelize and bring Christ’s message to others they have to adjust the message to their audiences according to time and circumstances. The same is true for us today. I sense these groups became the clergy as the church increased.
Giving up family
Peter was married. (Jesus healed his mother-in-law early in his ministry.) Jesus promised those closer ones:
"There is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come."
As I have given up having a wife and children, my family has never gotten smaller but larger. I have been adopted into many families through my various assignments. I saw 250 young men every day when I taught high school in Levittown, PA. I think those in these categories were clergy. And add to that today, religious and those single for the gospel.
The key is loving Jesus
Most of the world’s population is not called to the clerical state but to be married, sharing a unique love for their spouse. Then they are called to help God create and educate his children to help bring salvation to those around them in the future. The primary key is loving Jesus first as we see him relating to people in the 4 gospel stories. He was walking through Palestine looking for the blind, crippled, lame and broken, bringing them his fantastic healing love. As Jesus touches our lives and fills us with more and more of his love, we exalt and sing for joy at being loved so much. Every day Jesus’ church offers us more of his love to equip us to take Jesus from the church and be his hands and love, blessing God’s children we meet each day. We need his power to share his love. At times the joy is truly amazing. Yet not all will accept his love any more than they accepted Jesus’ message when he was physically on earth.Let us find the obstacles in our own lives that keep us from Jesus and rush to be filled with his love, so we can love others more. Let us also continue to pray for the world Synod on the Family going on in Rome for the next two weeks. Have a blessed week.
Peace and all good,
+ Fr. Bob Hilz
(© 2015 Fr. Bob Hilz, TOR)