Ordinary 28
Ordinary 28
by Lanie LeBlanc OP

As we begin to approach the close of the liturgical year, many of our Scripture readings will subtly or not so subtly deal with how we have lived our lives and what shall become of us at the end of our lives. This week's Gospel account talks about keeping the commandments, selling what one has and following Jesus, and the difficulty of the rich in entering the kingdom of God. Each time I read through these readings, again now or yearly, I find myself praying a bit in the sheepish tone of "Well, Lord, what if I haven't quite ......?"

Part of me was brought up in the yes/no era where there was little gray area between right and wrong. I carry that sense of education and conscience with me, but I have also been schooled, formally and informally, with other lessons emphasizing mercy, and intent, and mitigating circumstances, etc., etc. I feel comfortable with my internal moral compass...until I wonder fearfully about how skewed it might really be when the Lord is reading it! The truth is that the last line of our second reading (" ... everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account") makes me squirm.

As uncomfortable as that feels, I think it is a good thing to squirm. Questioning what I do and looking internally at my motives help me to look at my actions which, objectively, really are the mirror of my soul. This on-going examination of conscience is not scrutiny but awareness, an awareness of how I reflect the God Who made me. My prayer flows from those times, trying to find that balance of contrition and hopefulness that leads to true spiritual growth.

Our first reading puts that into perspective for me. It reminds me that the ultimate gift is the spirit of wisdom and prudence. I'm not sure if we can ever know the will of God for sure in our lives while we are yet here on earth, but I know there is a sense of peacefulness, not arrogant pompousness or smugness, that accompanies those times when I feel closest to what I think He really wants me to do and be. As I continue to pray for wisdom and prudence and try to live the commandments and love of the Lord in my daily life, I do remain aware of the stark reality of my own helplessness in accomplishing such a feat. I join with the feelings of astonishment and terror of the disciples as they asked "Then who can be saved?" when their criteria mismatched the Lord's.

Thank God (literally) that I don't have to earn eternal life. My eternal life and yours has already been purchased at a great price. My prayer and my actions do not earn a place for me, but rather are a sincere though imperfect response to a wonderfully wrapped gift that waits for me, here and in the hereafter. I pray that I may recognize the joy of that gift each day as it is unwrapped, even if I completely muff things pulling on the ribbon, for "All things are possible for God."

(Comments to Lanie at lanieleblanc@mindspring.com.)