Shared Homily Starter - 14 October 2012
First Reading: Wisdom of Solomon 7:7-11
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 90
Second Reading: The Letter of St. Paul to the Hebrews 4:12-13
Gospel: Mark 10:17-30
Today's First reading talks about the value of wisdom; how King Solomon prayed for understanding and God graced him with the Spirit of Wisdom. The story of the two women claiming to be the mother of a baby and Solomon's wise ploy to determine the baby's true mother always came to mind when I thought of Solomon and Wisdom. But last week, when I was here for Ric's thanksgiving service, Ric spoke of the value of the present moment. After listening, I began to expand my thinking on wisdom. What I mean is, that instead of praying for understanding or wisdom to come to us in some future time, we should be awake to the wisdom that is given to us in the moments of our every day lives.
Let me give you an example, two weeks ago at our First Nations Women's group, a woman came in who was very angry and rude. The facilitator didn't react but kept on with the day's program. She included the woman with her eye contact, by answering her brusquely asked questions with patience and respect. By the middle of the meeting, the woman was calmed down and civil and actually began participating with ease. The facilitator exercised the perfect balance of giving space, not giving undue attention yet being attentive enough. It was amazing to watch. In that moment, I learned what it meant to give a person the time and the space to become themselves.
This interchange made me think that we should pray to be awake, to be aware of what is happening around us and to appreciate what is happening around and within us. The Spirit of Wisdom within us grows and becomes more at home with us as we become more awake in how we live moment to moment.
The second reading tells us that the Word of God is “living and active.” We are told the God’s Word “is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” But God’s Word should also help us to bridge that insurmountable 18 inches between the head and the heart. Because we are naked and laid bare to the eyes of God─ our minds, hearts and actions should reflect the love of our Creator’s gaze.
This is a perfect segue into Today’s Gospel… It begins with a man running up to Jesus, addressing him as “Good Teacher, and asking what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus rebukes him for calling him “Good” by telling him “No one is good but God alone.” Jesus states some of the 10 commandments in answer to the man’s question, “You shall not murder; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; Honour your father and mother.” The man replies that he has kept all these commandments. Jesus mentions these specific commandments intentionally because they deal with how we treat others.
In Jesus’ time, most of those who were rich had gained their riches on the backs of the poor, that is, the peasants who had been and were being systematically defrauded of their lands. Corrupt judges sided with the elite rather than protect the poor. Peasants were also systematically forced into more and more debt, while the rich profited by their plight. The rich also had the false impression that their riches were a sign of their good standing in God’s eyes. So when Jesus asked him to sell what he owned and give it to the poor, it was more that he could take.
Jesus was asking him to transform his way of thinking in three ways. The first was that in giving what he owned to the poor, he wasn’t really giving anything, he was simply returning what rightfully belonged to the poor. The second way Jesus wanted to transform his thinking was that he, like us, should be willing to give all for God─ without whom, we have nothing. The third way the man needed to transform his thinking is to acknowledge that we cannot earn eternal life through our own efforts. It is God’s love and God’s grace that gives us eternal life.
The man in the Gospel, just like us, is caught up in a systemically inequitable societal system. We can understand the disciples’ dilemma when they asked, “Then who can be saved?” We are even more dismayed when Jesus says that we will receive persecution “in this age” for following him and spreading the good news.
But Jesus isn’t telling them this to be a downer. But what he was telling them was to do good because it is good; to do good because of love; that the hope of reward should not be our motivation; that honest, loving and respectful relationships with our neighbour is how we should be in this world and how we live the good news.
Please add your own thoughts on the readings.