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 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! Jesus invited him to freedom, but the cost was too much for him. So, what did the young man lack in his life seeing that he had seemingly led a pretty good life? The answer is in the first reading today. So, let’s have a look at it. Wisdom 7:7-11
The author of this Old Testament Reading speaks about an interior value that supersedes a fat wallet, and millions of $$$$’s in the Bank Account. Notice that it is a feminine characteristic of God…..WISDOM. Well, what does Biblical Wisdom mean? Firstly it is a Spirit filled Gift which we need to ask for….Wisdom is somewhat like a nice Red Wine….it matures with age. However, it needs good intentions from the one who wishes to acquire it. As Biblical Wisdom matures, it enable us to discern what is of lasting value, what is of temporary value and what is rubbish! In fact, according to the Scriptures, God-given-Wisdom is the most valuable spiritual possession one can have in this life. If it becomes part of our bone marrow, Wisdom will guide us, challenge us and strengthen us. In order to engage the Gift of Wisdom, a simple rule of thumb can help us….SEE, JUDGE AND ACT! This motto was the core of a Youth Movement which I belonged too as a teenager, and I have never forgotten it.
The response to the Psalm 89:12-17 Fill us with your love, O Lord and we shall sing for joy. The Prayer sentiments in this Psalm are a great community response to the first Reading…..if we took on board the prayer in this psalm…..our only response would be: – Fill us with your love, O Lord and we shall sing for joy.
Now, let’s hang on to the SEE, JUDGE AND ACT trio; you might find it handy as well. Let’s apply it to the young man in the Gospel story today. Mark 10:17-30. Let’s ask the obvious question: Why did he go away from Jesus sad? Most probably because he lacked Wisdom to discern the all-embracing gift that Jesus was offering him. He couldn’t see it! So Wisdom might have a great deal of meaning when it comes to seeing someone, who is the saving hand of God at work in Jesus. It could well be said to be the 1st cousin of faith! Food for Thought! So let’s get a balance in Our Lord’s view on wealth.
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 is ‘poverty of spirit’ which is a spiritual gift. It is that genuine thirst for God and a hunger to seek God, and in living that spirit, our attitude towards material things and people take on a new meaning. Poverty of spirit enables us to be open minded to what God asks of us. 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! When I was clothed in the Passionist Habit in 1968, we had no pockets because it was a black burial shroud! However, very inconvenient what you felt a sneeze coming on and one could not get to the pockets in our trousers under the habit to get a handkerchief, or hanky as we used to call them.
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.’