Wednesday, October 06, 2021

28th Sunday of Ordinary Time homily notes

    Presumption can often lead people into very dangerous or sticky situations. Humans have a capacity to convince ourselves that as long as we can do the bare minimums and master the basics, we have accumulated a sufficient amount of knowledge to be in control of all situations that can arise in a given context. Sadly, this sense of control is quite often illusory when serious problems arise. The Bible readings for Mass today remind us that this presumption of mastering the bare minimums is especially ineffective with it comes to love because love simply cannot operate effectively in that way.

    The Old Testament reading from the Book of Wisdom is speaking metaphorically about the love of Divine wisdom. The wisdom that God gives is something so precious that this book personifies it, much in the same way as Time is personified as an old man at New Year’s Eve parties or the statue of a blindfolded Lady Justice is found on a courthouse lawn. Divine Wisdom must be loved and accepted in its entirety because simply choosing the parts of God’s Wisdom that we like while rejecting all the parts we dislike is a recipe for folly.

    The Reading from the Letter to the Hebrews likewise personifies the word of God as a two edged sword. Many people take this verse to mean solely the written Bible as the word of God. While the written Old Testament had certainly been compiled by this point, what would become the canon of the New Testament had not been fully written yet and was not fully agreed to by the whole Church for another few centuries. What this passage is referring to is not just the written word of God, but the living word of God made manifest in the person of Jesus. Christ was the logos, the Word, that was made flesh and dwelt among us. We encounter Jesus’ love both in the Eucharist and in the written word, the Bible.

    In the Gospel reading from Mark, a young man runs up to Jesus, kneels before him, and truly wants to embrace the Divine wisdom that Jesus is offering. Jesus is so filled with compassion for the young man, the text says that Jesus looked at him and immediately loved him. The young man enthusiastically longs for eternal life and presumes that he has mastered all the basics of God’s commandments and so therefore is worthy to be given all of Christ’s Divine wisdom. Unfortunately, Christ quickly shows the young man that simply doing the bare minimum is not a path that leads to true love and wisdom because Christ tells him he lacks one thing: to give his wealth to the poor and come follow Jesus. The boy cannot at this point embrace this aspect of what God asks of him and goes away sad. The Gospel never tells us what becomes of the boy, but one early Church tradition says much later in life, the boy as an old man had a change of heart and finally did what Jesus asked in his youth and embraced the true meaning of embracing all of God’s wisdom, not just the parts he liked in his youth. Let us give thanks that God’s wisdom is always there for us to encounter in the person of Jesus, the Word made flesh.    



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