YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE 28TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: THE GIFTS WE SHOULD ASK OF GOD
BY: Abbot Philip Lawrence
My sisters and brothers in Christ,
Prudence and wisdom are the gifts that we should ask of God, and not money, wealth, riches, fame, power and other worldly gifts. We must be willing to give up everything in this life for the sake of the Lord Jesus.
The first reading today is from the Book of Wisdom and some see this as Solomon pleading with God. It could be any of us pleading with God. The point of the reading today is to ask ourselves: “What do I ask of God?” For sure if we are poor and need money, we might ask money of God. God wants us to ask of Him what we really need. On the other hand, we often ask for things we really want, but perhaps don’t really need. When we ask for what we really need, God listens to our prayer— even when God may not give us what we really need right when we want it!
The second reading is from the Letter to the Hebrews and continues this medication on prudence and wisdom. The author of this Letter tells us that “the word of God is able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.” Many of us have reflections and thoughts in our hearts that we would rather no one else ever was aware of. Many spiritual writers remind us over and over that God knows us and knows everything about us. For some of us, that can be a scary thought until we realize that God is always seeking to love us and to help us grow closer to Him. That does not mean that God simply accepts whatever we have in our minds and our hearts, but that God invites us to be purified and to let go of all that is not truly worthy of Him and of what He asks of us. The spiritual life is a progress in knowing God’s love for us and in letting go of all that might impede that love within us.
The Gospel today, from Saint Mark, tells the story of a very good young man who wants to follow Jesus and who has been deeply faithful to the teachings of God in his Jewish faith. Yes when Jesus asks the young man to give up all his wealth and come and follow HIM, then the young man goes away sad. What a strong teaching. God is always asking things of each of us. In so many ways, we are like the rich young man: good and not yet totally committed. We don’t know what the young man did later on. Perhaps he ended up selling everything and giving it to the poor and following Jesus. But his first response was only sadness.
We can ask ourselves what it would make us sad to give up for the sake of following the Lord. Ideally we should be able to give up everything and follow the Lord Jesus. Jesus does not ask everything to give up everything right away, but in the end we all know that we must be willing to give up everything and cling only to the Lord. Only if we continue to grow in our awareness of and acceptance of HIS love can we finally give up all for Him and enter the Kingdom.
Abbot Philip Lawrence, OSB Christ in the Desert Monastery, Abiquiu, New Mexico
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