by Father William R. Dulaney
When someone dies leaving money and possessions the adage “you can’t take it with you” comes to mind.
Chances are none of us recall seeing an armored car following the hearse in a funeral procession.
Reason, common sense and our experience of the passing of loved ones and friends assure us any money or worldly goods we have accumulated are of no value to us when we leave time and enter eternity.
Fortunately, enlightened by divine revelation and the gift of faith, we realize we can look forward to a life beyond this one; we believe we are called by a loving God to eternal life and are empowered by His grace to live in such a way that God will deem us worthy to share everlasting joy in His heavenly Kingdom.
In Mark’s Gospel, a man raises the question on all of our minds as we think about life, death and eternity as he asks Jesus, “What must I do to enter eternal life?” When Jesus reviews the commandments for Him, the man indicates that he has observed them from his youth. Concerned about this well-intentioned man, Our Lord says to him, “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.”
Reluctant to part with his possessions, the man walked away sad. Jesus used this incident to instruct His disciples on how difficult it can be for those who are prosperous and wealthy to renounce what they have acquired to follow Him and enter the kingdom of God.
The detachment from riches and giving of oneself demanded by Jesus requires discipline and sacrifice, which can dispose us to think more of others. If we have been blessed with material riches, what could be more in keeping with the spirit of Our Lord’s Gospel challenge than abandoning those riches to aid a neighbor in need or care for the poor? If we know the joy of love, should we not share of ourselves with those who have no one to love or whom no one loves? If we have peace of mind and heart and are happy to be alive, should we not try to encourage those who are sad or not as fortunate?
Any of Jesus’ followers who take His words seriously will be active, productive forces for good in the world, proving true what today’s excerpt from Hebrew’s proclaims — that the Word of God is meant to be “living and effective,” speaking to people in the depths of their hearts, inviting them to believe in Jesus and persevere in doing good deeds.
Hebrews states God’s Word is “sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating, able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.” Nothing is concealed from this Word: “To whom we must render an account.” The Word of God is a saving Word, but it is also one that judges. Since everything is known to God’s Word, we can, in the light of its wisdom, be judged worthy or unfit to enter the Kingdom of God.
The selection from Wisdom extols the inherent splendor, enduring beauty and priceless worth of wisdom. Compared to wisdom, the power of scepter and throne and the allure of gold and silver are nothing. Worldly riches are limited to this life, while wisdom yields riches that are infinite and eternal.
If we open ourselves to the power and gift of wisdom, we are more likely to make choices which will benefit us, help others in this life and pave the way for us to share, in eternity, the glory of God, the font and source of all wisdom.
Knowing that at some point we will be separated from our money and possessions, we would do well to accept today’s Scripture challenge to seek true wisdom and direct our attention and energy toward the only treasure that matters — treasure in heaven. If we do this, it will be obvious God’s Word and wisdom are living, effective forces influencing and guiding our every thought, word and deed.[hr]
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 or Mark 10: 17-27[hr] Father William R. Dulaney is a parochial vicar at St. Gregory the Great parish, Bellerose.