Homily for the Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time:
Wisdom 7:7-11; Psalm90:12-17; Hebrews 4:12-13; Mark 10:17-30
By Fr. Scott Karnik
We are all human. We are all mortal. We were born. We live. We are sinners. And we will die. Solomon realized this about himself. He has no advantage to his birth. Solomon will live and die, just like his subjects will, poor and rich alike. So Solomon does something about it. Solomon prays to God for the gift of wisdom. God grants Solomon’s request. Here is what Solomon does next. Solomon treasures wisdom above all else. Solomon preferred wisdom to scepter and throne; devalued riches in comparison with wisdom; elevated wisdom above jewels, gold, and silver; loved wisdom more than health, and preferred wisdom to light. Solomon did what the rich, young man in today’s gospel could not do: Solomon abandons earthly desires and possessions for wisdom. So what is wisdom? It is another expression for God Himself. When Solomon realizes that he is a mortal, just like his subjects, he abandons himself completely to God and His way of life for himself. The author of the psalm asks God to teach men to know themselves before God. May man’s knowledge of the brevity of his life lead him to spend his life wisely. Knowing who we are before God will change us for the better. God is wisdom.
We get to that point by presenting ourselves with uplifted hearts to God and His life-giving word. We lift up our hearts to God’s word. God’s word is authoritative. In fact, in the second reading from Hebrews, God’s word is so alive and authoritative that it is interchangeable with God Himself, who speaks it. God takes the place of His Word. God’s word is all-seeing and all-knowing. It penetrates the innermost person and forces him to address what really matters. All things discover themselves and stand bare before God’s eyes. The author of Hebrews says nothing is hidden from God. We will all give an account of our lives to God.
In today’s gospel, we see God’s Word made flesh. It is God’s Son, Jesus Christ. St. John wrote in the prologue to his gospel that the Word made His dwelling among us, and we have seen His glory: The glory of an only Son coming from the Father, filled with enduring love (John 1:14). In today’s gospel reading from St. Mark, God’s Word meets man. The man asks what he can do to inherit eternal life. Jesus answers. The man answers back. And Jesus tells him there is one thing lacking. “Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me”(Mark 10:21). Abandon yourself and follow Jesus, the Word made flesh. Trust Jesus above all else. Love Jesus above everything. Abandon everything. Put Jesus first and let Him change your life. That’s what Jesus told this rich, young man. He couldn’t, wouldn’t do it. Ultimately, the man entrusted possessions before God’s wisdom, God’s words, and God’s Word made flesh. That’s what Jesus emphasizes. Undue attachment to wealth is a form of idolatry. It is inconsistent with true service to God. Hopefully, the rich, young man was not ready to do this. Hopefully, he reconsidered and later did follow Jesus. We can only hope and pray.
So what must we know? That we can encounter God’s Word made flesh every Sunday at this beautiful Holy Mass. What must we do? We must come here with uplifted heart. The first part of the Mass is the penitential rite. We confess our faults and ask forgiveness. The second part is the liturgy of the word, where we listen to God speak to us. Another part is the liturgy of the Eucharist, where we receive Jesus Himself, the Word made flesh. He changes us if we let Him. Why should we care? Because God tells us that we are not our own gods. God’s word tells us that we mortals can and must trust Jesus, His Son, abandon everything, and follow Him. He will love us if we do and on that day, He will take us up with Him to heaven.
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