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Contents: Volume 2 - The Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time - October 14, 2018


 

The 28th

Sunday

Ordinary

Time

 

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. --

5. --(Your reflection can be here!)

 

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Sun. 28 B

The readings this Sunday give us pretty clear statements about inheriting eternal life. We are told that praying for prudence and wisdom will lead to "all good things coming together" for us. In the second reading, we are told that we must "render an account" for our lives to the word of God.

So far that does not seem too big of a stretch for most folks who sincerely try to live good lives. Then there comes the Gospel passage and the recognition that leading a good life is not all that Jesus invites the "good" man and us to do! Now what?

Are we really expected to sell all we have, give to the poor, and literally give up our families to follow Jesus as did the apostles? Well, yes and no. I think what Jesus meant was to follow him in the way he lived his life.

How did Jesus live his life? Jesus's life was not based on following the culture or politics of the day but in genuinely caring for others. Jesus relied on the Father's will for direction for his life and did not try to figure that plan out himself. He did this seemingly independently but gathered his apostles (who included his mother) to continue this work. He didn't seem to own anything and seemed unconcerned about that. Jesus focused on spreading the word of God through mercy, compassion, and repentance.

So where does that leave us today? Each person has to reconcile his/her own life with Jesus's example to see how close to the ideal is and would be realistic and possible. Certainly not being owned by one's possessions is a must. Certainly attending to the poor and less fortunate consciously and consistently is in that same column.

Discerning the will of the Father is always difficult. Even Jesus asked the Father if He was sure about the Crucifixion... then Jesus followed the answer! Jesus trusted the Father, period.

Where does one's family rank? I think that caring for one's family needs to rank high for it is both an act of love and an obligation.... but God needs to be the focus and priority. Abandonment is out but enlarging one's perspective of family is not, I think. Including one's family in the work of God and treating others as family are ways to spread the kingdom and be sure Jesus's legacy on earth continues when you are with him in heaven.

There are many ways to live and promote mercy, compassion, and repentance personally and systemically and also how to spend one's time and money well. These are the areas in which I think we all can step up. Kindness needs to be multiplied over and over again.

All comes from God! God should be the one who directs us in distributing and delighting in what He has graciously gifted us to use in His name. We are stewards of all we have been given, not the owners.

All things are possible with God. No one needs to turn away from these great challenges as did the "good" man. No one is actually "good enough". Everyone can move closer to the ideal Jesus has set before us with God's grace and prayerful reflection. All things are possible with God. Just ask ...as Jesus did.

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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Twenty Eighth Sunday of Ordered Time October 14 2018

Wisdom 7:7-11; Responsorial Psalm 90; Hebrews 4:12-13; Gospel Acclamation Matthew 5:3; Mark 10:17-30

We begin our liturgy of the Word with high sounding words from the book of Wisdom. Those words almost sound like a written fantasy. Who can live the way that inspired writer of Wisdom writes? The author of the Book of Wisdom was very taken with wisdom, believing it to be more important than anything else. Wealth, health, good looks, and even the power of kingship were less appealing than wisdom. The author would choose wisdom over light itself. Sounds very impressive, this love the author has for wisdom. He insists he’ll give over all other things if only he can have wisdom. Ok, we get it he’s really excited about wisdom. It even sounds as though he’s willing to live in poverty, unknown, lacking in influence, and unable to be productive or to change anything that is bad. Then it becomes clear in the last sentence of this reading from the Book of Wisdom. The author writes, "Yet all good things together came to me in her company and countless riches at her hands." So for this writer, pursuing wisdom is how one becomes rich, powerful, influential, and famous. It seems as though the author is telling us to go get an education, learn everything there is to be learned. And then in that wisdom, go out and conquer the world, reap the wealth around you, be popular, be a rock star. That’s what education does for you.

But wisdom is not knowledge or even skill. Wisdom is much more than just what we learn, though wisdom is truly knowledge and truly skill. Skill belongs to one’s hands. Knowledge belongs to one’s mind. Where then does Wisdom reside in a human? It seems as though the only organ in the human body that can contain anything is the heart. We think of the heart as the place where appreciation, love, and intuition reside. St. Paul, writing letters to places where he has evangelized, speaks of faith as residing in the heart. If his understanding is correct, then wisdom and love reside in the same place in humanity.

Anyone who has fallen in love realizes that the heart is a fickle place. The heart doesn’t follow rules of logic. Reasoning loses its hold when persons fall in love. We tend to overlook faults in the persons we love. We tend to idealize the person we are attracted to. It is no mistake that we often speak of "falling in love" rather than growing in love.

Are we in this reflection being drawn away from wisdom by rambling thoughts about love? Wisdom looks into reality and judges personal experiences in the light of a truth and reality that isn’t at first apparent. Just as two people coming into love with each other see in the other what most others do not so, so also the person who loves wisdom discovers in all of reality a truth that isn’t apparent to a secular person. Looking at a tree and seeing only material for building is a secular, consumer view of reality. The wise person looking at a tree sees the marvel of a living thing. It grows; it sways with breezes and bends under strong winds. Year after year trees shed old life and produce new life. And that life offers shelter and nourishment to a myriad of animals and birds. Bees and butterflies find nectar to build their families. All this is contained in a single tree.

Even more so, with a child. A new parent may look upon their first-born as an obligation, a fearful event in their lives demanding attention that before was the parent’s choice. The insistent cry for a change of diaper, of an empty stomach, or of uncomfortable cold or heat change priorities of parents. Yet, in moments of quiet, a parent can only stand in awe at the wonder of this baby --- ten fingers and ten toes: blue eyes or brown: hair or hairless: little ears, chubby cheeks, squirming arms and legs. In the eyes of the parents there is born a different sort of hope.

Such perceptions of the depth of creation, of plant life, of animal life, and most certainly of human life competes with perceptions about what is only about me and what I desire. Quests for wealth and power and fame fill most of our waking hours. We require wealth and power and fame for our survival. Without wealth we don’t eat, we lack shelter; we remain uneducated and unformed in the ways of the world. Without power we become subject to the whims of bullies, of charlatans, and of liars pursuing their agendas of greed and avarice. Without fame, we lack a sense of self-worth and we cower and hide from the gaze and manipulations of those who would take advantage of our weaknesses.

So with these thoughts in mind we come to our gospel narrative this day. Jesus is about to begin his tour in which he reaches out to the people of Israel. He has lived in Caparnaum and likely had a flourishing carpentry business there in this time of economic prosperity of that region. His house, his home was there. He is about to set out on a journey. Mark tells us that it was the beginning of his missionary journeys that this wealthy, well-connected, and respected young man came to Jesus and asked what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. This young man – as most of us realize – understood that his privilege, his wealth, his power, and his place in society were certainly not everlasting. At some point death would separate him from wealth, power, and influence. All would be lost and the continued pursuit of those things would have wasted his life. So, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Was there something in this question that asked "how can I take all that I’ve inherited and gained on my own through death?" Was he looking to "take it all with him?" Jesus spoke only about life telling him that he must follow the law revealed through Moses. The young man responded that he had followed the law even from his youth. The response doesn’t appear to have a pride basis. He seemed to honestly state his way of living. It is said that Jesus looked at him and loved him.

Jesus answer is a problem for us. We have responsibilities for our families, for our neighborhood, for our friends, for our church. How can we even consider selling everything we have and giving to those in need and then follow in the Way of Jesus? We would become dependent on others: we would need to survive because of the good will of those who didn’t sell all they owned. This would make us like Francis of Assisi who lived by begging.

And then there’s this promise of Jesus that whoever gives up everything will receive it all back a hundredfold. This sounds like the prosperity gospel that some Christian traditions preach. The Jews themselves believed that wealth was a sign of God’s approval. The cultures of many European countries insist that hard work is necessary. Even St. Benedict in founding his many, many monasteries insisted on "Ora et Labora" – that is pray and work.

This is all very confusing. How are we to live? Isn’t following the law enough? Shouldn’t we segment our living into secular and religious? In all this we cannot forget that we believe that all creation was formed by God. Whether by a single word or by millions of years of evolution God is the author of physical reality. God is also the author of our spiritual reality. When we seek and open ourselves to wisdom we discover the answers to this dilemma.

One way of thinking about this is to realize that our God is a living God. Our God lives among us and with us and for us. Thus all our experiences, all our persecutions, all our achievements, all our wealth, all our power, and all our fame can lead us to a fuller and more complete understanding of God and his presence. While rust and moth consume material things, the understandings we achieve of God’s presence come from our lived experiences. The Scriptures, the work of philosophers and theologians, of scientists and studies of humanity all help us to see the presence of the Living God among us now. Whatever we do or choose that denies dignity and worth to any of creation builds barriers to our ability to know God among us. A theologian from the past century says it well. When we sin we do harm to God’s creation. For what we know of God is this: God is love and whoever abides in love abides in God and God in him/her. That is where wisdom leads us. Let us join with the book of Wisdom and seek wisdom as the object of our living. It makes a tremendous difference. It silences the rancor and anger of the secular world and seeks only truth.

Carol & Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com

 

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RICHES GETTING IN THE ROAD: 28TH SUNDAY B

A questionnaire was once distributed to a class of high school students. It asked: ‘What would you like to be?’ Two thirds answered: ‘A celebrity!’ Not an answer Jesus would have given!

Mark, today’s gospel storyteller, tells us that Jesus is setting out on a journey, when this young man – he is not named - comes running up to him. All enthusiastic, he asks Jesus what he must do to make the most of his life and time on earth. What he is wanting is a greater closeness to God and a greater sense of fulfilment. It’s true he has already been walking the right path for any good young Jewish man. He hasn’t killed anyone, cheated anyone, or robbed anyone. He hasn’t fooled around with another man’s wife. He has always shown his parents love and respect. But right now this doesn’t seem enough to feel completely at home with God and completely at peace with himself. There must be more that he can be, and there must be more that he can do. ‘What is it?’ he asks Jesus.

Jesus takes a shine to this rich young business man for his evident honesty, sincerity and good will. But Jesus wants to free him from his addiction to possessions and to help him share more with others. Looking him straight in the eye Jesus puts to him one massive challenge: ‘There is one thing you lack. Go and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’

Let’s hear Jesus saying that to us 21st century people. What would we think? What would we feel? What would we do? Let’s hear Jesus, then, asking any one of us to give up every single thing we value and treasure. My family! My friends! My home! My garden! My kitchen with its new cupboards and appliances! My air conditioner! My computer! My smart TV! My smart phone! My IPod! My iPad! My digital camera! My swimming pool! My Jacuzzi! My secure job and pay packet! My superannuation! My pension! My gym subscription! My holidays! My concerts! My books! My movies, my videos, my CDs and DVDs! My restaurant meals! My motor car! My football! My cricket! My tennis! My squash! My basketball! My health insurance! Just imagine Jesus asking us to give up just about every possession, every pursuit, and every hobby we have that gives meaning to our lives and makes life worth living!

And all for what? To keep walking with Jesus along those dusty roads of Palestine? Not being sure of having a roof over my head on any night you care to name! Never being sure of where, when or whether my next meal will be coming! Being exposed to the jeers and sneers of the enemies of Jesus! Travelling light all right, unbelievably light!

If, then, like that rich young man we did meet Jesus on his journey and he were to look steadily at any one of us and say: ‘Go and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor . . . then come, follow me,’ it would be very understandable, perhaps even predictable, that our jaws too would drop, and we too would walk away sad, sad because we would probably be thinking and feeling: ‘Jesus is asking too much of me. The cost is too great. It’s beyond me. It’s unreal. I can’t do it.’

Jesus, in fact, knows that what he asked of that young man is quite beyond the great majority of human beings. ‘For mortals,’ he comments, ‘it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.’ He is speaking, surely, of the special grace of God, and of the power of that grace given to particular individuals, who all through history have literally left everything to follow and imitate Jesus. St Francis of Assisi is a striking example. In 1206 Jesus crucified spoke to him three times from the crucifix in the church of San Damiano. ‘Go, repair my church,’ Jesus said. (He was speaking of his church community). So at the age of 25 Francis completely renounced his inheritance, stripped himself of all his fine clothes and all his possessions, and consecrated himself totally to God. From that day he began to live the teachings of Jesus as literally as possible. He put all his trust in God as his one and only source of security. The amazing thing is that from that day on Francis found more joy in living than in the entire first twenty-five years of life. It can be done, then, but not by everyone.

Where does the gospel story leave you and me? Right now we can’t pack up the bare necessities and hit the road. For most of us that would even be irresponsible. But let our gospel remind us that we can let our lives get too cluttered and too complicated by too much stuff and too much attachment to what we have. It’s not that possessions are bad in themselves. But they can become a terrible hindrance if they start to possess us and block our minds and hearts from what matters most - surely our freedom to be loving persons to family and friends, but also to those poor people not far away without even the basic necessities of life. What matters most of all is our relationship with Jesus. He was calling that young man of the story into his company. He keeps calling us too to share his company - to spend time with him and to share our lives with him. Let’s do just that, then, in the rest of our Eucharist together today!

"Brian Gleeson CP" <bgleesoncp@gmail.com>

 

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Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections, and insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the preaching you hear. Send them to preacherexchange@att.net.  Deadline is Wednesday Noon. Include your Name, and Email Address.

-- Fr. John


 

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