YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE 28TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
THEME: “THE POOR” AND “THE RICH”
BY: Rev. Fr. Anthony O. EZEAPUTA, MA.
Homily for Sunday October 10 2021
I’d like to share with you a little secret. Would you be surprised if I said, “I’m not looking to be poor; I’m looking to be rich?” Obviously, some of you may say to me inadvertently, “That is not a secret. We are unanimously in favor! We, too, desire wealth, possessions, and riches. Who wants to be poor?” I know that you wouldn’t want your family and friends to be without the finances to maintain a decent standard of living. I’m sure you’d wish for them to at least have access to life’s basic necessities. Likewise, I also desire to be rich in order to have access to proper housing, clean water, healthy food, and medical care, as well as to assist those in need. And you’d probably agree with me that the ability to live a decent life, as opposed to a life without a basic standard of living, is what separates the rich from the poor.
However, when you hear “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” (Mk 10:23). Do you still want to be rich? Don’t you want to enter the kingdom of God? What is Jesus attempting to communicate? The Gospel (Mk 10:17-27) of this Sunday invites us to meditate on this often misquoted and frequently misunderstood teaching of Jesus Christ and His Church on riches, material possessions, and poverty.
In today’s Gospel, a wealthy young man who desires eternal life prostrates himself at the feet of Jesus. He is eager to learn the means of eternal life from Jesus. He refers to Jesus as a “Good teacher.” Jesus responds with a question, “Why do you call me good?” but does not pause to elicit an answer; instead, he continues, “No one is good except God.” Jesus is undoubtedly here to capitalize on an opportunity to emphasize his divinity and to open the eyes of the rich man. Furthermore, when Jesus lists the commandments as the means to eternal life, the rich man declares that he has kept them since he was a youth. Then all he needs is to sell everything he owns, give it to the poor, receive treasure in heaven in exchange, and follow Jesus. At this point, the mood shifts: the wealthy man becomes deeply disappointed and departs sorrowful, “for he had many possessions” (Mk 10:22). And Jesus concludes, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” (Mk 10:23).
The Bible uses the terms “the poor” and “poor in spirit” to refer to those who place their trust, hope, and security in God. And the Evangelist Matthew declares: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (5:3). Mary and Joseph, Simeon and Anna, Zachariah and Elizabeth, the shepherds of Bethlehem, and the Twelve whom the Lord called to intimate discipleship are all excellent examples of “the poor” and “poor in spirit.” As such, Jesus implies in today’s Gospel that it is easier for those who place their trust, hope, and security in God —the poor — to enter the Kingdom of God.
On the other hand, the Bible uses the term “the rich” to refer to those who are arrogant, proud, and who place their security in their wealth and possessions rather than in God. As a result, their false sense of security provided by wealth frequently gets in the way of their relationships with God. Jesus addresses these people when he says, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:25). The Pharisees and Sadducees are excellent examples of the rich in the Bible.
The message Jesus wants to convey with “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” (Mk 10:23) is that “attachment” to material possessions is an obstacle to entering the kingdom of God. of course, attachment to material things is a challenge for all Christians. There are numerous obstacles along the way of discipleship that must be overcome. However, who is capable of such an act? Jesus responds to the disciples’ fearful question with the following: “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.”
Today, we are invited to give up our attachment to material possessions and follow the path of detachment, as this is the price of admission to the kingdom. Jesus doesn’t condemn material possessions because they are not inherently bad. They may, however, become our idols. “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). Thus, we are challenged today to reassess the illusory sense of security provided by material possessions. Additionally, to use our God-given blessings and gifts to serve God and humanity.
Finally, true discipleship does not imply a life devoid of basic necessities. Christianity does not imply poverty in the conventional sense of the word. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights…” (James 1:17). Rather, we are told to be “poor in spirit,” which means that we must put all of our faith, trust, and hope in God—who is capable of anything and never disappoints. Thus, possessing material goods and using them to serve God and humanity is Christian discipleship.