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28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B – Homily

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Wisdom 7:7-11
Psalm 90:12-13, 14-15, 16-17 (14)
Hebrews 4:12-13
Mark 10:17-30
October 14, 2018

A man came to Jesus and “knelt down before him” to ask him a question.  His act of kneeling indicates that he recognized the greatness of Jesus in the same way we kneel during the Eucharistic Prayer as Jesus becomes present in the bread and wine.

The man asked a question that we all want to know the answer to, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”  We want to spend eternity with God in Heaven.

Jesus began his answer by listing some of the Ten Commandments.  God first delivered the commandments through Moses during the Exodus.  Some 1,500 years later, Jesus repeats these commandments throughout the gospels and helps us understand what they mean.  “Indeed the word of God is living and effective.”  The Commandments were written not just for the people at the time of the Exodus but for all people.  They still hold true even today.  We just need for the wisdom and prudence to apply them to our lives today.  For example, the Commandment “You shall not kill” has added relevance today in choices we face about life that didn’t exist at the time of the Exodus.  Or we might ask ourselves what it means to “honor your father and your mother” in a world where people live longer and might live far apart.

To Jesus listing of the Commandments, the man replied, “Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.”  Impressive!  When we don’t observe the Commandments, we call it sin.

Jesus then told him there is one more thing the man needed to do, “Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor.”  We are told the man “went away sad, for he had many possessions.”  Here, the biblical scholars say that the man was not willing to give up his possessions.  The passage doesn’t literally say that.  I like to think the man went away sad because, while his possessions were important to him, he was willingly to give them all up yet it was difficult.

This is not the only time Jesus refers to not holding onto our possessions.  For instance, when he sends his disciples out on mission, he told them to take no money bag or walking stick.  Here, the poverty is to show their trust in God to take care of them.

Today Jesus says, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God.”  How does “wealth” make it hard for us to enter the Kingdom of Heaven?

Wealth,” aka material things are neither good or bad.  It is our attachment to them that gets in the way of our salvation.  That’s why we need to pay attention to what Jesus is saying here whether we are wealthy or not.  In the same way we can become too attached to material things, we can become attached to power, prestige, or just needing to be right.

The things of this world along with earthly power, prestige, or just what we like to do don’t mean anything in the world to come.

This is why Jesus then said, “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.

To understand what Jesus is talking about here, we need to know what He means by the “eye of the needle.”  It might seem obvious that He is not talking about a sewing needle.  I have a hard time getting thread through the eye of a sewing needle.  There is no way for a camel to pass through it.

In Jesus’ day, cities were often surrounded by walls for protection.  There would be main gate that would be wide and easy to pass through when it was open.  When the main gate was shut, people could enter through a smaller entrance known as the eye of the needle.  This was a small opening in the wall, just wide enough for a person to pass through.  If the person had a camel with them, it would be carrying their possessions.  With the possessions, there was no way for the camel to pass through.

When we talk about Heaven, sometimes we refer to the “pearly gates.”  The Bible itself refers to the gates of Heaven.  If we want to pass through these gates, we need to be willing to let go not just of our possessions but our attachments.

What possessions do you have that hold too much importance to you?

Do you hold a position that gives you power that you cling to?  It might be being the boss at work, government position, captain of the team, or just being in charge of your home.  There is nothing wrong with holding these positions.  Just don’t let it control you.

Maybe your attachment is to your ego, having to be the best at something (or everything).  Do you do something just to get an award to look good?

Parents and teens sometimes give too much importance to sports or other activities, hoping they lead to a college scholarship and a great job.  The scholarship and great job can be important.  Just make sure you aren’t motivated for earthly things and power and lose your soul in the process.

Again, things are neither good or bad on their own.  It is our attachment to them that can lead us away from God.  What attachments do you have that you should give up?

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