28th Sunday Year B 2015 A realhomile from Fr Kevin Walsh Sydney Australia
Dear One and All,
I think that most people like shopping….I must confess that I do! Especially in Hardware Stores like Bunnings in Sydney. However, there is something nice about ‘window shopping’ which means looking without buying! (I believe that this can be a very difficult thing to do, ha, ha) However, when one accidentally stumbles across a real bargain, for example a SALE on clothes; and then, in the midst of a huge table of Jumpers (Sweaters/Pullovers), one cannot believe that these Alpaca varieties are 50% Discounted! You, and 100 other people are rummaging through all this items and suddenly you find the right colour! Is it your size? Yes, it is! This is your lucky day! So you join the never ending queue at the Cashier! On the way home a little bit of depression starts to creep into your mind…..you whisper to yourself…” I already have about ten Jumpers…..” the depression gets worse 😦 Funnily enough, that’s generally the outcome when we hunger for material things….the thrill is in the initial looking, and finding…but as soon as we fork out the cash, and start thinking about all the other times that we have been caught like this…..emptiness starts to creep in followed by a low dose of depression! The thrill of finally getting an Alpaca Jumper begins to ware off, even before you put it on!
Not so with Spiritual gifts…..depression never sets in…let’s look at the first reading today from Wisdom 7:7-11.
It seems that Wisdom does not grow on trees! Before we can acquire the gift of wisdom, we must WANT IT! This want is a bit like drooling over the prospects of an Alpaca Jumper, but, at that moment, the road goes off to the right….along Wisdom Circuit! In the gaining of this precious and vital Gift from God, we must firstly know what it is! We then must pray for this gift and then entreat or implore God for this gift! (We must nag God for this Gift)
There is something very different about The God-given Gift of Wisdom……..This Gift is like a bottomless pool! It can get better and better and better, as soon as we know how to grow with this Gift. It seems that this can come about through, reflecting on situations where we discover this Gift in others, and cherish it. It also can develop in us as God’s Word grows inside us; linked too, and within ‘Prayerfulness’ with this gift, we can discover more features within this Gift, and they are ours if we want them! So much so, that the Community who put together the Book of Wisdom, were keenly aware that true Wisdom is part of the feminine characteristic of God….that is why we see the acquisition of Wisdom written in the feminine form! It also knows that this Gift has unlimited value…in comparison to Gold, Silver and Pearls….
The Author in the Book of Wisdom goes on to say that with the acquirement of this Gift, all earthy riches fade into oblivion. This gift is also aligned with, and compared to, the Light which enables all living things to grow, which for us only comes during the day time, but with Wisdom it comes to us, and we can grow in it, and with it and attain a happiness beyond what earthy gifts can give us.
Now, I bet you are asking the question: ‘Well, what is Wisdom?’
The Icon of the Trinity gives us some visual clues. It seems that the acquirement of Wisdom, is that ongoing transformation that takes place within us as we truly embody the proclaimed Word of God. It also means that we incorporate that Community personality of God which CREATES, REDEAMS AND SANCTIFIES! So, by yearning for these Trinitarian gifts, and seeing how God’s Wisdom has been illustrated throughout Salvation History, we have to want Wisdom! We have to pray for Wisdom, we have to entreat God for an infusion of Sancta Sophia…..Holy Wisdom.
We asked the question: What is Wisdom? Now we have to look at: – How can we attain Wisdom? Just as we all need the proper nutrition for our human bodies to work properly, we also need spiritual nutrition for our ‘spirit-selves’ to not only be maintained, which is really coasting along the road, but we need good solid food in the form of the ingestion of God’s living Word right into our bone marrow. We need to Listen to God in and through prayer….like that of young Samuel…” Speak Lord, your servant is listening…” So often in our prayer it is more like…”Listen Lord, your servant is speaking…” We need to be quiet from time to time to take in what is happening around us….this practice will help us to see Christ in each other. It will help us to see that God only has children…..no grandchildren! Any person alive in this world has a right to be here. Our God does not want some people to travel through life in Economy Class, and others in Business Class…..we are all called to travel 1st Class! By gradually putting on the mind of Christ, as St. Paul says, we will see the world differently, we will hear people’s laughter and tears as invitations to closeness and companionship. By creating moments where people can realise their potential, and deepening their love, assists in creating the New Heavens and the New Earth is the Book of Revelation. By being the “Lord’s Prayer people” we will creatively use God’s Wisdom as we bring Heaven to Earth as we pray in the Our Father…. We need to be people who are agents for redemption and assistants where people can experience Salvation….that is being saved in order to rise to greater heights knowing that the saving hand of God is at work everywhere! In being creative and redeeming, moments in our world will become wholesome which equals, holy. Holiness is not measured by the calluses on one’s knees, but by the nimbleness of one’s heart. Wisdom enables us to deal with suffering in a positive way…….Jesus learnt obedience through suffering. That means Jesus learnt to LISTEN more through suffering, to that point where His Passion and Cross become the greatest sign of God’s love for us! Wisdom calls us to wear the Cross of Jesus, in ways that sharpen our love and compassion, and prune us like what happens in winter to a double delight Rose Bush, which in spring and summer produces outstanding flowers.
Today’s Gospel gives us Jesus’ teaching on the dangers of attachment to riches, and he speaks about the rewards awaiting those who put him and his message before their earthly ambitions, of building up their wealth on earth.
The first obvious thing in today’s gospel, Mark 10:17-27, is that the young man seemed to be a very good person. He was most respectful to Jesus, and he was honest in his search for eternal life. He had kept all the commandments since his youth, and Jesus looked on him with love. To all appearances, he was an ideal person. Yet, without condemning, Jesus just had to show him something about himself of which he may have been very unaware. He was too dependent upon his wealth, and therefore without knowing it, he was not truly free! But notice what Jesus did……let’s have another look: – Jesus looked steadily at him and loved him. This is what our Creative God did after creation was put in motion….In Genesis, it says that God rested on the seventh day……really it seems to mean that God gazed in love, not at all His work, but on what was happening in continued growth! Jesus, the human face of the Father, does exactly this to the young man……gazing at him, praying for him, loving him to the point of suggesting a challenge! The young boy, went away sad……but we don’t know how Salvation was activated in him through Our Lord’s Prayer and gaze later on down the track.
Maybe, we are sometimes that young man, and probably we know through our experiences how we grasp the Wisdom of God, and entreat God for that spark which was ignited by Jesus, into a hearth through our absolute desire to become truly rich by being poor!
Jesus invited him to freedom, but the cost was too much for him, and he went away sad……I wonder what was going through his mind as he walked away sad? I have walked away sad sometimes, how about you? Food for thought, eh?
There is nothing wrong with wealth, or with being wealthy. Some of the world’s greatest people, who have given much of themselves to others, have been very wealthy people. So it’s all about our attitude and inner secret attachment or detachment that matters, which gives us the freedom to embrace the Gospel fully, or due to enslavement to riches we can walk away sad!
Well what kind of poverty is Jesus speaking about when he says that we should have a sense of detachment from things in order to be truly free? The answer it seems is ‘poverty of spirit’ which is a spiritual gift; an inner gift, a first cousin of the gift of Wisdom! It is that genuine thirst for God, and a hunger to seek God! In living that poverty of spirit, our attitude towards material things and people can take on a new meaning. Poverty of spirit enables us to be open minded to what God asks of us at any time! It flavours our life so much, that we are deeply appreciative of our inner gifts, and can tune into the richness within other people, without being jealous or envious of them. Poverty of spirit is an inner truth which sets us free, to use the gifts that our world provides with a sense of appreciation and moving on, and not wanting to cling on to, what we have got as a source of true identity and self-esteem. After all, when it is all said and done, a burial shroud has no pockets! Something to think about!
We give thanks to God who alone is good, for his Son, Jesus Christ. By handing over his body and blood for us, Jesus gives us everything; and turning on us his look of love, he says: ‘Do this in memory of me.’
God Bless you and your families and may we never forget each other in prayer. Fr Kevin Walsh
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