10 October 2021 – 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

By Fr Joachim Robert

Wisdom 7:7-11
Psalm 89:12-17
Hebrews 4:12-13
Mark 10:17-30

Theme: Radical Interior Calling

Dear friends,

Our readings of today seem to fit so well together.  In the first reading from the Book of Wisdom, we are reminded that the wisdom is a gift that God has given to each and every one of us.  And then in the second reading, wisdom is expressed as the word of God.  The letter to the Hebrews says the word of God is something alive and active, it cuts like any double-edged sword but more finely, it can slip through the places where the soul is divided from the spirit or joins from the marrow; it can judge the secret emotions and thoughts.

And here dear friends, we see that these two readings come before the Gospel, which is the pursuit of that rich young man towards Jesus in that journey of finding meaning, in that journey of wanting to grow in his relationship with Jesus and be in his company.  But the response that Jesus gave was astounding because this rich young man was a good man; he did all the things that the law commanded of him, followed the teachings of the law, whatever that was required by the law he did.  He followed everything as it was prescribed.  So he was a good man.  But when he approached Jesus to grow, Jesus said to him, “There is one thing you lack.  Go and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor.”  And with this, dear friends, because of his many possessions, the rich young man was not able to respond to what Jesus was asking of him.  And that is why he went away sad.  But the invitation of Jesus was still open.  Jesus looked steadily at him, loved him and said, “There is one thing you lack.

And the question we need to ask ourselves, dear friends, is, “What are the aspects of our lives that we lack in order to follow Jesus?”, because the possessions that this rich young man had was an obstacle for him to follow Jesus more closely.  And sometimes, even though we have done many, many things for the sake and the love of God, it may not seem enough.  And we ask of ourselves by the way we engage in ministry, by the way that we dedicate our lives for the sake of the Gospel, for the times that we have put aside our personal interests for the greater glory of God.  All these sometimes can attach us to what the rich young man is going through.   We sometimes feel that we have done so much but at the end of the day we are unable to let go of those possessions that we have because our hands are full, our hearts are full.  Only when we allow our hands to let go can we allow God to fill them and to fill our hearts as well.

In our spiritual journey, dear friends, very often we may find that we have been trying and trying and trying but our spiritual life is not maturing or not growing.   And whenever we are faced with that kind of situation, the story of the rich young man reminds us that there are some areas in our lives that we need to let go.  And it is not only for all of you, it is also relevant to me and to everyone who is a disciple of Jesus, who wants to follow Jesus and grow in a relationship with him.  We see, dear friends, in the Gospel, that the rich young man was good.  And we discovered that he held back his disposition of following Jesus because of the possessions that he had.  And we too may feel ourselves in the same position as the rich young man because we are unable to let go. 

Today, I would like to draw three lessons from the Gospel of today:-

  1. Our desire for holiness, our desire to follow God, to grow in the company of Jesus may be slow, but let us not give up. Let us allow the Lord to mold us and shape us.  And as the second reading says again, “The word of God is something alive and active, it cuts like any double-edged sword but more finely.”  And this, my dear friends, is the wisdom of God because the word of God shapes us, molds us and prunes us into more and more the image of what God wants of us.  And as we approach Jesus through the word of God, we are called to identify those possessions that we have, to let go of our own insecurities, to let go of our own possessions and sometimes our own relationships, sometimes our own way of doing things, sometimes our own way of dealing with people.  We must be able to let go so that God can lead us to a life of holiness and happiness.
  2. We know that we need to let go but we need to identify what are the areas of life that we need to let go because sometimes these attachments holds deeply in our lives, so strongly in our lives that we are unable to see them because it has become a part of us.
  3. We need to recognize that Jesus knows what is best for us. Just like the rich young man who went to search after Jesus.  That rich young man came towards Jesus with his own view of things, his own concept of following Jesus but Jesus needed to break that mold of the understanding to lead him to a greater happiness if he wants to follow him. 

Sometimes, dear friends, we may feel inadequate, that we are not good enough, that we are not able to fulfill the roles and the duties that have been entrusted to us.  In that way, whenever we reach Jesus in the word of God, we are called, dear friends, to transcend, not to move backset but to allow Jesus to challenge us and to lead us into a greater awareness of his love for us.  Sometimes we don’t recognize the potential that we have until and unless we let God.  We underestimate ourselves sometimes.

The other thing, dear friends, whenever Jesus told the rich young man and he left Jesus, Jesus was indeed giving him a mission to go back to his community, to go back to the poor, to sell his riches and to lead them back towards a greater awareness of who Jesus is as a community.

Our pursuit for holiness, dear friends, is not a personal agenda.  Our pursuit for holiness is a pursuit together as a community.  And as we look at what is happening in the church today, as we have the opening of the Synod of the Synodality of Communion, Participation and Mission, it is a call for each and every one of us, dear friends, to go to the peripheries of our own lives, to go through the peripheries of our own communities to possibly sell our riches and lead each other towards where Jesus wants us to be.  Because, only when we do that, dear friends, are we able to realize the kingdom of God present in our world.  But that process that we are taking is challenging, is painful and it’s full of obstacles.  But we need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and fix our gaze on Jesus because as the Gospel says again, “Jesus looked steadily at him and loved him.”  In the same way, he looks at each and every one of us and in our communities, wanting us to be led back to what he wants of us as a people.

So today, we pray, dear friends, we pray that each one of us may be like the rich young man, acknowledging what we lack, acknowledging what we should change and transform in ourselves so that we can lead others towards Jesus; and doing so, we don’t go with our own ‘I’, our own ‘Me’, but we go together as ‘WE’.  As we lead ourselves towards Jesus, towards the greater ‘WE’, we come to grow into this awareness as a community of faith and as a people of God.

Lastly, the responsorial psalm says today, “Fill us with your love that we may rejoice.”   Let our journey, dear friends, in this whole aspect of this Synod that we are preparing ourselves for be a time of renewal, of revival and to allow the love of God to fill our hearts with love that we may rejoice.

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