Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
This week we celebrate the Twenty-Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time. We are told of the prayer of Solomon and its results in the first reading. What could I do that would be better than to follow Solomon’s example of asking God for wisdom? In the second reading, we are reminded that God’s Word to us demands a response. It will not simply go away and bother someone else. How have I responded or failed to respond to God’s call to me? The Gospel emphasizes that salvation is a gift from God that can not be won by our own efforts no matter how much wealth, power, or strength we may have. How have I responded to the good things in my life. Do they fill me with a sense of my own self importance or do they give rise to profound gratitude for what God has given me?
First Reading: Wisdom 7:7-11
7 Therefore I prayed, and prudence was given me;
I pleaded and the spirit of Wisdom came to me.
8 I preferred her to scepter and throne,
And deemed riches nothing in comparison with her,
9 nor did I liken any priceless gem to her;
Because all gold, in view of her, is a little sand,
and before her, silver is to be accounted mire.
10 Beyond health and comeliness I loved her,
And I chose to have her rather than the light,
because the splendor of her never yields to sleep.
11 Yet all good things together came to me in her company,
and countless riches at her hands.
NOTES on First Reading:
* Wis 7:7-11 This section forms an inclusio with the words, “came to me” marking the beginning and the end.
This section refers to the story in 1 Kings 3:5-14 and 2 Chronicles 1: 7-12 where God told Solomon to ask for anything he wanted and Solomon chose to ask for wisdom. Scripturally, Wisdom is not mere abstract knowledge or intelligence but practical insight into the will and ways of God. This is the wisdom for which Solomon asks. God granted him his wish and all of the other things that he could have wished for were given to him as well. They followed in the wake of wisdom’s arrival.
Second Reading: Hebrews 4: 12-13
12 Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. 13 No creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account.
NOTES on Second Reading:
* 4:12 Referring to verse 7 it is the Word that speaks to us and invites us to belief and perseverance. While it is a saving Word it is also a Word that judges since it condemns those who refuse to listen. The Word is described in terms that emphasize its effectiveness: It produces life (Deut 32:47) achieves its purpose (Isaiah 55:10-11) Sharper than any two edged sword (Isaiah 49:2; Proverbs 5:4; Wisdom 18:16)
* 4:13 There is some debate on the exact meaning of the last phrase of this verse. It may be taken as “about whom we are speaking” or “to whom we must render an account”. The latter seems to suit the context better. Another suggestion based on comparison with John 1:1 is “with whom the Word is present on our behalf”.
Gospel Reading: Mark 10:17-30
17 As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother.'” 20 He replied and said to him, “Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.” 21 Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to (the) poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 22 At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 The disciples were amazed at his words. So Jesus again said to them in reply, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to pass through (the) eye of (a) needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.” 28 Peter began to say to him, “We have given up everything and followed you.” 29 Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel 30 who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come.
NOTES on Gospel:
* 10:17-27 At the time of Christ, wealth was generally considered to be a sign of favor from God. The words of Jesus in 10: 23-25 were quite a shock to those who heard them for the first time.
To recreate the People of God a true self-gift to Jesus is needed and to do that we must loosen our grip on everything else including ourselves.
* 10:18 Rabbis and teachers of the day rejected being called good in an absolute sense since in absolute terms only God is good. This man sees Jesus as a man only and so should not call Him good.
* 10:20 The man shows himself to be a “good man” who let greatness in Christ slip by him.
* 10:21 Only Mark has the detail that Jesus “loved him”. This fact has been the reason for the suggestion that the evangelist Mark himself was that man who had rejected Jesus’ invitation at first.
The command to “go…sell…” is usually seen as a special invitation to the rich man and not a general rule for all followers.
* 10:23 The rich man’s rejection of the invitation was not a special case but is the general response from those who have wealth to rely upon rather than relying on God.
* 10:25 The frequently heard explanation that the eye of the needle refers to a narrow gate into the city robs verse 27 of its power.
* 10:26 “Who then can…” The normal way of thinking would be that if the rich can’t do it then there must be no hope for the poor! In the common mind-set of the time the rich were seen to posses such advantages as: time to study the law, opportunities for prayer, and material goods for sacrifice and alms-giving. The poor were without such opportunities.
* 10:27 This is equally true for both rich and poor. Neither is able to save himself. It is possible only for God.
* 10:30 But this must not be reason for giving them up. To give in order to get more is not the motivation Jesus is advocating.</font