Bulletin: October 10, 2021
Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Most of us sincerely desire to grow in wisdom and in faith. Today’s readings explore the challenges we face when we allow God to lead the way. We first hear the author of the book of Wisdom extolling the value of wisdom in our lives. Then in Hebrews we are told that sometimes God exposes difficult truths about ourselves. These readings set up Mark’s story of the wealthy man. In his encounter with Jesus, the man faced a very harsh truth, that his possessions actually possessed him and blocked his path to God. We may have similar “moments of truth” when we have an overwhelming desire to minimize or to run away from truth that God reveals to us. In these moments, may we remember that God always seeks to bless and heal us. In these moments, may God open our hearts to receive truth with faith and courage.
Today’s Gospel describes a tense and tragic encounter between Jesus and a wealthy man. It appears that the man sincerely desired to know the way to inherit eternal life. He had followed much of the Law of Moses. Apparently, he had also followed society’s rules in gaining and sustaining his wealth, avoiding stealing and defrauding.
Jesus indicates that the man missed a crucial part of the Biblical tradition, which calls upon those who have much to share generously with those who have little. The Old Testament regularly refers to this obligation (for example, see Deuteronomy 15). Historians note that in the society in Jesus’ day, the wealthy enjoyed privileges in an economic system that also prevented the poor and vulnerable from meeting their basic needs. The wealthy man’s entrapment in his possessions damaged both himself and the whole community. In our own time and place, those of us who enjoy privileges of various kinds are invited into social and economic practices that embrace this biblical generosity.
Much of our inner life is hidden from others. This protects us from being harmed by others who would seek advantage over us. But our hidden inner life can also keep wounds from healing, and may help sustain deeply damaging illusions about ourselves and about the outer world.
In today’s passage from Hebrews, the author offers vivid imagery of the word of God and its effect upon us. Here, God’s word is described as the active power of God that penetrates our hearts. God is described as a surgeon who can expose our hidden places and maneuver around our hardness of heart. Exposure of our inner self can be terrifying. During surgery, we are deeply vulnerable and utterly dependent on the surgeon’s care and skill so that we can be healed. When events in life allow God to reveal hidden truths about ourselves, it is crucial that we know we are in the hands of a trustworthy and skilled surgeon.