The Readings for Sunday 14th October 2012 or the twenty-eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B:
[These readings can be found at www.universalis.com for the next few weeks.]
I think this is one of the saddest stories we hear in all the bible. It's a story of what might have been, it's a story of the earthly wealth denying heavenly riches, it's the story of a man called by Christ. “Come, follow me”, Christ said to him, just like He had called Peter, Andrew, James and John on the shore of the sea of Galilee. Yet we don't know this man’s name, because this potential apostle said 'No' and turned away. If he had said 'Yes', what might he have achieved for God's Kingdom.
This man wasn't a bad man, in fact we can assume he was eager to hear Gods word as he ran up to Christ and knelt before Him. We also know him to be a faithful Jew as he kept the commandments. He did not steal, lie or defraud. He did not kill or commit adultery. He honoured his family. So we know he did nothing wrong. He was also rich, which according to Jewish tradition must have meant that God was pleased with him and had granted him wealth.
Jesus looked at him, loved him and called him to do something different, something more, something he hadn't been doing. Jesus asked this man who did nothing bad, to do something good. Jesus asked him to put into practice the greatest commands, to love God and to love his neighbour as himself. It was not enough for the man to do no wrong, he had to do right as well, had to love and put love into practice.
The man was unable to accept Christ call, for him the price was to high, he turned down Christ's offer to follow Him, he kept his worldly riches, turned and walked away from Christ.
As Christ, his heart still full of love for the man, watched him walk away he contradicted Jew tradition as he said, “How hard it is for those that have riches to enter the kingdom of God.” The disciples were astonished as they believed that to have wealth was a sign that you were in good standing with God, and here was Jesus telling them that riches were a stumbling block to entering the kingdom of God.
How often do we repeat the mistake of this man today. We live good lives, we do nothing bad, we don't steal, we don't lie, we don't kill. Yet do we Love? Do we give? Do we follow?
Riches can be our stumbling block today. In the UK we live in one of the richest countries in the world. Our personal wealth typically puts us in the top 1% of the richest people in the world. We can easily get side tracked by money and comfort, we can worry about losing what we have. Without being bad people we can all to easily forget the millions of people worse off than we are. Like the man who ran to Christ today, we can all to easily say I want to follow but then when it comes to action, to actually following, we choose comfort, worldly trappings, gold and credit cards.
Our salvation however is a gift from God, because everything is possible for Him. Christ's death on the cross paid the price, the heavenly price, for our salvation. God found a way to offer us entry into His Kingdom. The door to His kingdom will never be closed, we are all offered entry. The only question is do we choose to enter.
If we choose to follow Christ, we can expect to have to make sacrifices, we are not promised an easy life, if we follow, we are not promised riches if we follow, we are not promised comfort if we follow. We are however promised the kingdom of heaven, and it's in that kingdom that we will understand what real wealth and riches are.
It takes real wisdom, wisdom granted by God, to realise that wealth and riches in this world are nothing compared to the Love of God and an eternity spent with Him in his kingdom. Our first reading tells us we can find wisdom like this through prayer.
“I prayed, and understanding was given me;In fact our psalm today is a prayer for wisdom, a crying out for Gods love and grace. With God's wisdom, love and grace you will be able to hear Christ calling you to follow Him. Christ is constantly asking you to follow him. Constantly offering you a new opportunity to say yes. To not only do no wrong, but to actively do good, to be part of his Church, to be part of it's mission.
I entreated, and the spirit of Wisdom came to me.
I esteemed her more than sceptres and thrones;
compared with her, I held riches as nothing.”
In a few moments time, as we celebrate the Eucharist, you will have the opportunity to stand before Christ. Are you ready to ask Him, as the man did today, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” and when He tells you what to do, will you like the man sadly turn away, or are you ready to follow?
About the Author - Deacon John Scanlon
Last Weeks Homily - Homily Index