Sunday Scriptures

Leaving Behind the Obstacles To Eternal Life

By Sister Karen Cavanagh, C.S.J.

God knows us through and through. From the womb, and before, we are loved in every fiber of our beings. God knows the secret longings and the desires of our innermost hearts. Today, and every day, we hear an invitation to leave behind whatever gets in the way of that intimacy and deep relationship with God. Jesus has shown us and will show us the way.

Today’s second reading from Hebrews vividly reminds us of the power and vastness of God’s Word. It is a power not just for a time but for all times, able to bring life and effectiveness to every part of our beings. All we need to do is open our hearts and our lives.

That rich young man in today’s Gospel was probably very sincere in his question but challenged beyond comfort with the response. Has that not happened with you and me? This brother of ours is marked forever for the same things we do when God’s ways seem too difficult.

Same Response

We pray and ask the questions, “God, what do you want me to do? God, show me the way. God, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” The way and how we ask and pray may be different, but the response finds us very much like this brother of ours. “The word of God is living … sharper than any two-edged sword.”

Sometimes it seems that the Gospel message is more difficult in this age than ever. It certainly feels more urgent. There is so much that gets in the way of that gift of ourselves to God, to each other and to all of creation. Not only do we have “many possessions,” but most of us also have more than we know what to do with. Perhaps even more so, it is what we are unwilling to do with those things. We build storage facilities on so many avenues of our city. We pay to store, rather than sell or give away that which we don’t need.

At times, it appears that our “throwaway culture” has even moved beyond “things” and “stuff.” Our world so often manifests a violence, neglect, disregard and abuse toward the dignity of all human life as well as the responsible care of all creation.

Jesus’ reminders of God’s mandates – God’s “you shall nots…” and Mark’s inclusion/ addition of “you shall not defraud” – invite us and our leaders deeper into a place of reflection and transformation. They invite us to that “one thing still lacking,” to that daily “letting go … giving over” of ourselves to God’s wisdom and God’s power to do the impossible.

Last week’s reading centered around our fidelity and response-ability to our relationships based around the family system. This week’s reading is around that same response-ability and fidelity in our financial and economic systems and with our own clutched power and possessions. We are each other’s keeper, especially toward those among us and next to us who are most vulnerable.

Possessing Traits, Behaviors

Are not the wisdom, discretion, caution and good judgment (prudence) of God the riches we long for, yet fear are not enough? They are what I know to be right, and yet they are what I block out at times with my busyness, agendas, “stuff,” worries, need to control, resentments and fears. These are cling-to possessions that make our faces fall.

For most of us, it’s not gold, silver or money. These “possessions” are also the traits and behaviors through which Jesus looks deeper and loves what He sees. All things are possible for God. Thank You, God!

Having been graced with the person, the words and example of Pope Francis to all of us and to each of us, we pray and plead for the wisdom and good judgment to “let go” and “leave behind” that which keeps us from our “response-ability” as inheritors of eternal life.

I’d like to leave you with this prayer/poem crafted by Sister Joyce Rupp, O.S.M. It speaks of our loving God Who created the deep longings in our hearts:

You tap at the window of my heart.
You knock at the door of my business.
You call out in my night dreams.
You whisper in my haphazard prayer.
You beckon. You invite. You entice.
You woo. You holler. You insist:
“Come! Come into My waiting embrace.
Rest your turmoil in My easy silence.
Put aside your heavy bag of burdens.
Accept the simple peace I offer you.”

I hear and respond to the One Who beckons.



Readings for the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time  

Wisdom 7: 7-11

Psalm 90: 12-13, 14-15, 16-17

Hebrews 4: 12-13

Mark 10: 17-30


Sister Karen Cavanagh, C.S.J., a trained spiritual director and retreat facilitator, is a pastoral associate/family minister at St. Nicholas of Tolentine parish, Jamaica.

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