Homily from Sunday October 10th 2021 – 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor,
and you will have treasure in heaven; come, follow me!
The rich man in the gospel felt like he lacked something despite being a good man following all the commandments. So, when he saw Jesus, he ran to him and knelt before him asking “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus knew his heart and used this opportunity to present a radical and enduring teaching on discipleship and calling him to deeper faith .
We can see ourselves in this man who had already responded to the Lord’s grace and diligently avoided harming others in his life yet felt empty at heart. Jesus looked at him with love and invited him to sell what he had, give to the poor, and then engage in a life of ongoing radical discipleship by following Jesus. It is important to note that this invitation is made out of love and not harshness, indifference, or encroachment on the man’s goodness.
Jesus knows that the man is capable of greater and more profound discipleship, and our Lord readily invites him to that way of life. But we see the man was unable to love as Jesus loves, by giving of himself in sacrificial generosity to others, he walks away sad to cling on to his sources of false security and chose against sacrificial generosity to the poor even as Jesus had loved him.
In our life too, we will see something that holds us back from a deeper relationship with the Lord or our discipleship. It is not necessarily the material blessings we received, it may be our talents, our positions, or opportunities God gave us to share His love with others using our blessings.
We often get satisfaction from the things we own, clothes, cars, homes, gadgets, or money. But what happens to us when our possessions begin to ‘own’ us and when we become obsessed with them? Jesus loves us in part because He desires to love others through us, and that requires our cooperation and sacrificial generosity to use the blessings we have received from God for the good of those in need.
Jesus seeks followers who have the freedom to let go of possessions in order to be a servant of others. Growth implies change. That change sometimes means letting go of something we love or something else we value. The disciples thought that Jesus was making impossible demands of people following him. He acknowledged that discipleship was impossible to us on our own efforts alone, but for God everything is possible. Today’s psalm talks about the good times and bad we face and urges us to keep hope in God who is available for us whenever we face difficulties. We need wisdom and prudence to reach there.
In the first reading we heard Solomon praying for prudence and wisdom and he received both. It means, through a healthy prayer life and a healthy relationship with God, wisdom and countless blessings will come to us too. The second reading says, the word of God is living, active and sharper than any two-edged sword, thoroughly piercing the hard hearted. When we hear the ‘Word’, we will experience a conflict between our self-centered soul which is our humanity and the spirit, which is our deeper connection with the Lord. The wisdom of God helps us to understand and follow the word of God and make changes in our lives and our relationship with fellow humans and God. So let’s start a new life of scripture reflection and prayer so that the wisdom of God will open our hearts in our journey to discipleship.