Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Today begins a period of reflection on the meaning of “riches” for individuals and
communities. We read a love song to the spirit of wisdom. The Psalm and Hebrews both continue this meditation on wisdom. Mark personalizes these reflections by the story of a good man who wants only to move closer to eternal life but finds his way blocked by his own success. He walks away sadly from Jesus. The choice could not be clearer but even a good man finds it impossible to uproot himself from his possessions. The lesson is both about the treasure that is Wisdom, that is eternal life, that is Jesus, and the power of our attachment to things that are not eternal. We must choose again and again which path we will make our own.
SPIRIT OF WISDOM
The first reading is about wisdom. It is a love poem written to the object of the author’s desire. The author loves wisdom itself and experiences wisdom as the source of all good things, all riches. The psalm tells us that wisdom is kindness. It is knowing and doing the work of God. It is understanding what our life is for. Hebrews recognizes that Wisdom is, in fact, the Word of God, Jesus. The source of our continuing life is Jesus. Mark makes this even more personal with the story of one man. A good man who has observed the laws from his youth, even in the loving presence of Jesus, cannot find the strength to leave his worldly possession behind and follow.
Who does not strive to be successful? What good person does not want to be able to provide for their family all the necessities of life, to assure that they will have the means to feed, clothe, shelter, educate, and care for themselves and those they love as well as help their neighbors, strangers, the needy? Isn’t that what is asked of us, to love God and our neighbor as ourselves? The readings today make clear that even more is required of us. We must do all those things and we must realize that doing so is only the first step to understanding what is at the center our lives. We must realize that our accomplishments are not the measure of our value and worth. However successful or unsuccessful we are, our worth is measured by the truth that Jesus suffered, died, and rose for us. To truly know that, we must let go of everything else that roots us in time, space, and expectation and be willing to follow eternity.