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07/14/18 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Fr. Reggie

In today’s Gospel Our Lord gazes upon the Rich Young Man with love before he asks something of him that he knew would be difficult. The Second Reading today reminds us that God’s word has the sharpness of a sword, and, we can add, the precision of a scalpel: it finds precisely where the tumor is, knows where to make the necessary incision that makes our delusions fall away, but we must choose to go under the knife. 

We too need to contemplate the words of today’s First Reading. The Wisdom of God is what we need; everything else is an investment in that for which we’re truly searching. The Wisdom of God is described as discovering the love of your life; everything else pales in comparison. Wisdom is more valuable than political power. Wisdom is more valuable than material wealth. Wisdom is more valuable than physical health or beauty. Wisdom is the true path to success.

In today’s Second Reading the Letter to the Hebrews reminds us that nothing is hidden to the eyes of the Lord, and he can reveal things within us to which even we are blind. If the Wisdom of God in the First Reading is described as a splendor that even light itself can’t compare, the Word of God in the Second is described as a sharp sword that cuts through any pretentions or illusions we may have about ourselves or others. The Word of God is always meant to reveal something, expressing the Wisdom of God so that we see ourselves, the world, and others in its light.

Our Lord doesn’t see himself offering the Rich Young Man in today’s Gospel pain and sacrifice; he is offering him the path to a deeper love for God in exchange for the love he’s already received and shown. When the Rich Young Man tries to flatter Our Lord a little Jesus is quick to chide him about his motives for such praise and redirects his thoughts to God. Our Lord is telling him that it doesn’t matter how rich he is, or whether he is good or bad; God’s love for him is constant.  If success and moral living don’t help us grow in our love for God, they don’t go far enough; they will not satisfy us. If the Rich Young Man had taken today’s First Reading (which did exist in his time) and replace the expressions “prudence” and “Wisdom” with “the love of God,” everything would have snapped into clarity.  The wisdom he was truly seeking from Jesus was an awareness of the love God had for him, in which every other good thing would pale.  He may have seen Our Lord as asking a costly sacrifice, but Jesus was asking him to invest the fruits of his success and goodness into something greater and for something greater. Our Lord looks upon us with love no matter what we do, but he also invites us to follow him, draw closer to him, and love him more.  Many times we see that through a filter of losing something, sacrificing something. We too need to contemplate the words of today’s First Reading. The Wisdom of God is what we need; everything else is an investment in that for which we’re truly searching.  Let’s respond as the disciples did today and learn from the example of the Rich Young Man.

Sometimes a routine test may stumble across a tumor starting to form, but tumors usually stay hidden until their adverse effects prompt the doctor to take a closer look. Tumors start to form hiddenly and gradually. The symptoms often start that resemble other, less serious, illnesses. Our Lord in today’s Gospel gave the Rich Young Man a terminal prognosis if he didn’t seek the right “treatment.” The Rich Young Man did not know his love for wealth was a tumor in his spiritual life.

In today’s Gospel, we hear of the man who will go down in history as the Rich Young Man. Perhaps he wanted to make a name for himself, but in the end, he anonymously provides an example down through the centuries of “don’t let this happen to you.” Don’t leave anything off limits to God, because sooner or later it will come between you and him.  In the spiritual life, we can form unhealthy attachments to things–wealth, health, relationships, etc.–and we can lose sight of the fact that everything we have and are is a gift from God, to be used to serve him and to serve others. The Rich Young Man had put his possessions and their charitable and spiritual potential off limits, and, like a jealous lover, Our Lord told him, “it’s them or me: pick.” The Rich Young Man made the wrong choice. Let’s ask Our Lord to show us today whatever there is in our life that we may be putting off limits to God.

 

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