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                                                                               Texts of the Readings

October 15, 2006

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

by Terrance Callan

Wis 7:7-11   X   Heb 4:12-13   X   Mk 10:17-30


           Choice always involves getting something and giving up other things.  It can often be very difficult to make choices because of that; we do not want to let anything go.  We choose most easily when we see that what we gain far surpasses what we relinquish.

            The reading from the gospel of Mark tells of an incident that occurred as Jesus and his disciples were traveling to Jerusalem.  A man ran up to Jesus and asked what he should do to share in everlasting life.  When Jesus answered by mentioning several commandments, the man said that he had kept all these since his childhood.  Then Jesus looked at him with love and said, “You are lacking in one thing.  Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”  But the man “went away sad, for he had many possessions.”

            Commenting on this incident, Jesus said that it is very hard for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God.  In order to enter the kingdom, it is necessary to give up everything and follow Jesus.  Those who have the most to give up have the most difficult time giving it up, but all must give up what they have.  Perhaps because they understood that this is what Jesus was saying, the disciples asked, “Then who can be saved?”  Jesus answered, “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God.  All things are possible for God.”

            Finally Peter said that he and the other disciples had given up everything to follow Jesus.  Jesus replied that those who have done this will receive in this present age a hundred times what they have given up, “and eternal life in the age to come.”

            In the reading from the book of Wisdom, Solomon describes his pursuit of Wisdom.  He says, “I preferred her to scepter and throne, and deemed riches nothing in comparison with her.”  “Beyond health and comeliness I loved her, and I chose to have her rather than the light.”   He chose Wisdom before everything else.  But when he received Wisdom, he received everything else along with her.  “Yet all good things together came to me in her company, and countless riches at her hands.”  We are invited to see Jesus as Wisdom incarnate.  The only way to attain Wisdom incarnate in Jesus is to put following Jesus ahead of everything else.  And when we do so, we receive everything else along with Jesus.

            Some of us are literally called to sell what we have, give it to the poor, and so follow Jesus.  But even those of us who are not called to do this literally, must put following Jesus ahead of everything else.  In either case it may be hard to discern, even for ourselves, whether or not we have put following Jesus first in our lives.  However, as the reading from the letter to the Hebrews reminds us, the word of God in scripture summons us to such a searching self-examination.  “The word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.”


Terrance Callan


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