28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B

be-wise

1st Reading — Wisdom 7: 7-11

The author of this book lived in Alexandria, the major Mediterranean port city in Egypt.  He wrote his work in Greek for the large Greek-speaking Jewish community there, shortly after the beginning of Roman rule in 28 BC.  He probably taught in one of the many synagogues in the city, and his book demonstrates the profound knowledge he possessed of both Jewish and Greek culture and learning.  The author shows that one can be open to Greek ways and still remain a faithful Jew, (Ceresko, Introduction to the Old Testament, p. 327).  Solomon was seen as the model of Wisdom and was also remembered for building the magnificent temple.  This book was written with his name as sort of an ‘honorary’ author.  (Preaching Resources, Oct. 15, 2006)

What is it to be wise?  Name a person you know or have heard about who seems wise to you.  What attributes does this person exhibit that help you to understand what wisdom is?

2nd Reading — Hebrews 4: 12-13

What does the image of this two-edged sword say to you?  Is it empowering, frightening, encouraging?  How do you think the Word of God is living and active today?

This hymn-like tribute to the Word of God (imagine it being sung) invites us – urges us – into transformation.  Mary Birmingham says (W&W, B):

The Word comforts those who turn to its counsel.  Like a sword it penetrates the dark recesses of the human soul.  It pierces the lies and the denial and exposes them to the truth.  The Word judges the heart.  The word ‘judge’ comes from the Greek word kritikis that means crisis.  A crisis is a time for a decision — for judgment.  The Word of God uncovers the hidden secrets and questionable motives in our hearts and invites transformation.

From William Barclay, The Letter to the Hebrew, p.40:

The Greek phrases that make up the last part of this section about being “exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account” may have various interpretations. One is that the word was used in wrestling for seizing an opponent in such a way that he could not move or escape. It may be telling us that we may escape God for awhile, but then God grips us in such a way that we cannot help meeting him face to face as we are. It also refers to the fact that God sees us to the heart – to our inner most being. In the end we must stop running from our selves – and from God.  Remember always: God sees with love.

The Gospel –Mark 10: 17-30:

Most of us Christians cannot walk away from everything tomorrow. But all of us are called to personal assessment. The more God grows in our lives, the more simply and generously we can live. When we allow God to fill our hearts and minds, there is less room for ‘more things.’ What stands between God and us? Let us pray for wisdom and use God’s Word as a sharp sword that cuts through the ‘nonsense’ that sometimes surrounds us and deadens us.  (Faley, Footprints on the Mountain, p.662)

From John Pilch, The Cultural World of Jesus, 148-150 and http://liturgy.slu.edu :

The journey is mentioned at the beginning. This is the journey to Jerusalem and eventually to the cross… What do you think of the way that the man compliments Jesus? Are compliments sometimes given so that they can be returned? Or do they imply that the person is so arrogant that they would think highly of us if we compliment them?  This was often the case in Jesus’ culture and times.  John Pilch also notes that whenever the word “rich” appears in the Bible it is better to substitute the word “greedy.” At this time the ‘greedy rich’ land owners had 98% of the wealth even though they were only 1% or 2% of the population.  They surrounded themselves with those who could supply their every want including honor and prestige. Jesus is also challenging how they (and we) view family. For this young man to sell all would have meant untying himself from family, home and land. Jesus’ challenge was one that would seem like social suicide, but in the end it would lead to more family, real treasure, and full life: The KingdomIn your life today, how would you view such a challenge?

An interesting comment from Living Liturgy, 2003, p. 227:

The procession [at Mass] with the bread and wine is symbolic of our own journey from life to eternal life when we will stand at the messianic banquet ‘in the age to come.’  The bread and wine are symbolic of ourselves, just as the bread and wine are substantially changed into the real Body and Blood of Christ, so we are transformed into more perfect members of that Body.  Finally, when the gifts of the community include food, necessities, and money for the poor this is wonderfully symbolic of our willingness to “give to the poor” and taking Jesus invitation to follow him quite seriously. It is a concrete way for us to show our willingness not to be possessed by our riches but to give of ourselves, emptying ourselves to better follow Jesus with an undivided heart.

Jesus not only was teaching his disciples on the way, but he was showing them the way, and leading them toward it.

Which commandments are missing?  Did Jesus forget them?  Hardly…the 1st 4 commandments are that there is only 1 God, don’t worship anyone or anything else, don’t use God’s name in vain and the Sabbath is holy.  Why do you think he omits them?  They all have to do with worshipping God.  Perhaps Jesus knew this man already practiced these things.

Notice how Jesus tells him to GO and sell his things, then COME and follow me.  Jesus usually calls and sends in a single movement.  He almost never sends without first calling a person explicitly.  Yet in this case, the man is sent away to do something before he is called to follow Christ.  Why do you think that is?  Do you think his wealth has anything to do with it?  (Gittins, Encountering Jesus, p. 74-75)

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One response

  1. Always so thought provoking….. in a way, facing our friend/relative’s placement in expensive assisted care, we are being asked “go sell everything”….. luckily some of us have God to lean on and trust. Others not so much. Keep us in prayer? I know you will.

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