Reflections on the Readings for Sunday 14 October 2012
Wisdom 7:7-11; Psalm 90:12-17; Hebrews 4:12-13; Mark 10:17-30
Jesus was on a journey himself when a rich man came up to him to ask him for advice. The man was on a quest for life in all its fullness, and was making good progress along the path of ‘goodness’. He kept the commandments faithfully, but the fact that he asked the question of Jesus indicates that there is something missing in his life. Jesus’ first reply to him is a strange retort, but one that already nudges the man toward recognition of the real issue. The rich man comes to Jesus because he recognises that Jesus is good. He wants to learn something from this teacher. But Jesus directs attention elsewhere. If the man is to enjoy the fullness of life that is found in God’s presence, then he needs to take his focus off goodness and put it onto God. He cannot do that, though, because of his possessions. He is willing to work hard at morality, probably even willing to be generous, but he is prevented from embracing fullness of life precisely because his arms are so full of ‘stuff’.
When Jesus gazes at the man, he sees his desire, and his struggles, and also his enormous potential as a human being who images God. Jesus, the Word of God, sees to the man’s depths, cutting through all the layers that hide the man from himself and pronouncing the effective cure for his longings: ‘Get rid of everything that is entangling you, use it to bless others in their need, and join me on the journey to eternal life.’ The man quite understandably baulks at such a radical course, and leaves sad. I wonder if he spent the rest of his life trying to come up with a theology that allowed him to serve God and wealth? If he did, he might have been able to ease some cognitive dissonance, but he would not have found life in all its fullness.
True wisdom will lead us to desire the right things. It will lead us beyond the quest for wealth and power, even beyond the quest for the ‘good’ toward finding that which is best, God. And when we find God, we find all that is good. We find Life.
Here is the reading from Wisdom for those who don’t have this deuterocanonical book in their Bibles:
I prayed, and prudence was given me;
I pleaded, and the spirit of wisdom came to me.
I preferred her to scepter and throne,
and deemed riches nothing in comparison with her,
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.
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.
Yet all good things together came to me in her company,
and countless riches at her hands.