Sunday Sermon for October 14, 2018, the Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Readings: Wis 7:7-11; Heb 4:12-13; Mk 10:17-30
In the first reading Solomon explains how he prayed and pleaded with the Lord and was given prudence and Wisdom. He tells us he preferred wisdom to anything: scepter and throne, riches, health, and comeliness. This was the priority for Solomon, but what are our priorities?
It could be that Solomon, being quite intelligent, sought wisdom for himself. Perhaps, we might think, if he had a different personality or different circumstances, he would have made something else his priority. Thinking in that manner, we can easily justify our own set of priorities if they vary from Solomon’s.
However, we need to ask whether or not Solomon’s priority was just his own personal preference or if it was inspired by Wisdom from above. While Solomon could not have understood fully the ramifications of his prayer, we know that Jesus is the Incarnate Wisdom; He is the One for whom Solomon was pleading. The Wisdom given to Solomon was divine.
This means we cannot look upon Solomon’s quest for wisdom as a personal preference only. When our Lord told us we are to love God with our whole heart, and soul, and strength, He was telling us that God must be our first priority. Therefore, Solomon’s priority is the standard for each and every person God has made.
Solomon tells us all good things came together in the company of Wisdom. St. Paul tells us all things work together for good to those who love the Lord. In other words, for those who choose Wisdom, all good things come together. Without Wisdom from above, we would judge wrongly any things because on the surface they do not seem to be good.
This applies to many points of suffering in our lives, things that do not go our way, illnesses, rejections, and the like. God allows all these things to bring about a greater good for ourselves as well as others. What might look like a failure may well be a great success from God’s perspective. We need not look any further than the crucifix to understand this truth.
Ultimately, everything has to be seen in the light of salvation. St. Paul, in the second reading, speaks of God’s word and says it is sharper than any two-edged sword and that nothing is hidden from Him to Whom we must render an account. So, every choice I make is either in line with God’s will or it is not; it either brings me closer to Heaven or it pulls me away. One day I will be shown every choice I have made along with the reason I made the choice. I will be responsible for every choice; every choice has a bearing on my eternal salvation.
This being the case, it is imperative that I chose wisely; put another way, I need to pray to use the Wisdom given at Baptism and strengthened at Confirmation so I can conform my will to God’s will knowing His will is not only the best, but it is perfect. Without Wisdom, I might be tempted to give into the things of the world, as we see with the rich young man in the Gospel. When true Wisdom was presented to him, he went away sad because he was unable to see the wisdom of what Jesus offered. His attachment to the goods of this world blinded him to the greatest good, which is to follow Jesus.
How can we suggest giving up everything is good when Jesus tells us in the Gospel that we will be persecuted if we do this? Little by little, as we continue to pray and remove any obstacles in our path to the Lord, we begin to understand how detachment from the things of the world allow us to attach ourselves more perfectly to God. It allows us to see that suffering and persecution free us from our self-love so we can love God and neighbor with the love we have received from God.
This Wisdom is manifested in the Saints who possessed All (God) because they possessed nothing. They were free because they were not weighed down by the things of the world. They were able to love fully because they were not seeking their own interests. Their interest was God and doing His will. So, like the rich young man, they observed the Commandments, but were willing to leave everything to follow the Lord.
God asks some things of us that are fairly easy, like observing the Commandments, but He also asks some very hard things of us. Thankfully, He does not leave us on our own if we seek Wisdom and choose to do His will. Our Lord told us in the Gospel that all things are possible for God, even for us to be saved and gain eternal life.
Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit www.thewandererpress.com.