28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Oct. 14 (Year B) Wisdom 7:7-11; Psalm 90; Hebrews 4:12-13; Mark 10:17-30

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17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 30 (Year A) 1 Kings 3:5-12; Psalm 119; Romans 8:28-30; Matthew 13:44-52

Imagine a supernatural being offering to grant us whatever we ask. This has been a recurrent theme in legends and mythology.

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VATICAN CITY – The humble counsel of courageous women should never be disregarded but rather embraced as advice full of God's divine wisdom, Pope Francis said.

Published in Vatican
October 1, 2015

The value of wisdom

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Oct. 11 (Wisdom 7:7-11; Psalm 90; Hebrews 4:12-13; Mark 10:17-30)

You must run for your life in the face of a natural disaster. If you could take only your most precious possession, what would it be? Your car or house? Perhaps your financial portfolio or family heirlooms? The author of Wisdom had definite ideas on the matter, and his answer might be surprising to many. All the precious and valuable things in the world pale in comparison to his prize — the gift of wisdom. He heaped up superlatives singing wisdom’s praises and demonstrating how it is superior to everything else, even power, glory, gold and precious stones.

Published in Fr. Scott Lewis
July 17, 2014

No shortcuts to God

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) July 27 (1 Kings 3:5-12; Psalm 119; Romans 8:28-30; Matthew 13:44-52) 

If we were granted one wish, what would we ask for? The answer to that question would say a lot about our character and personality. 

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28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Oct. 14 (Wisdom 7:7-11; Psalm 90; Hebrews 4:12-13; Mark 10:17-30)

It would appear that gold, oil, stocks, natural resources and other precious commodities make the world go around. Indeed, people have been killing one another cheerfully for millennia in order to possess more.

Things that glitter can drive people to absolute madness. In the Wisdom tradition of the Old Testament, there is something that makes all of these things seem worthless in comparison and is more valuable than even health, beauty and power. This is wisdom, and it is not to be confused with knowledge or cleverness. There are those who have been educated far beyond their intellectual or emotional intelligence and others who use intelligence for immoral or evil ends. Wisdom, on the other hand, is something that most of us have fervently hoped for at times — the ability to know what is right, especially when there are many conflicting choices. The one endowed with the divine gift of wisdom remains focused on a path that combines justice, compassion, generosity of spirit and a God-centred mind and heart. We recognize these rare individuals as sages, saints, humanitarians and great statesmen and rulers. We probably know far more of them that are not in the history books, such as certain friends, relatives, teachers and others who have been influential in our lives. The wise person is often the one to whom we turn for advice or to ask the deeper questions of life.

Wisdom does not come easily — it requires humility, an open and seeking mind, thoughtful reflection and prayer. Life and its many experiences is the best teacher. Above all, wisdom will often urge us on a path of action that might be at odds with culture, traditions and the opinions of others. The most difficult part of gaining wisdom is not letting it be eroded or whittled away by the many pressures and negative voices that the world can exert.

A piercing and cutting two-edged sword is a strange metaphor to use for the Word of God. There is an obvious danger in violent and militant religious symbolism. But its uncompromising, levelling and unmasking qualities are certainly correct. “Word” means far more than what is written on a page. It is God’s communication with humanity and it can reach us by many paths. The recent pastoral letter Verbum Domini points out that God’s Word can be expressed in salvation history, events, inspired speech, messengers such as the prophets, art, music and, most of all, Jesus who was Himself God’s Word. A genuine expression of God’s Word does not confirm the status quo or allow hypocrisy and self-delusion. It can be painful and disconcerting but it also transforms and gives life and it is most effective when applied rigourously to our own life rather than used against others.

These qualities of the Word were evident in the story of the rich young man in the Gospel. Jesus the Word brushed aside the young man’s attempt at ingratiating flattery and pointed out that he already had the answer to his question concerning eternal life: he should practice the principles of his religion. The rich man had a nagging sense that there was something more. Jesus did not judge him — in fact, He looked on him with love while at the same time piercing through all of the man’s defenses and self-delusions. Jesus saw that the man derived his identity and security from his wealth as well as his ability to control his own destiny. Jesus invited the man — if he really wanted to move to a new spiritual level — to leave it all behind. By giving the wealth to the poor and following Jesus he would discover his true self and would really learn what it meant to rely on God and be led by the Spirit. It was too much for the rich man to handle all at once and he went away shocked and sad, causing Jesus to comment on how difficult it was for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God.

Maybe the man had a change of heart later on — after all, with God all things are possible. Renunciation and discipleship is foolishness in worldly eyes, but as Jesus reassured Peter those who do so receive far more than they have given. Freedom, happiness and letting go are different ways of saying the same thing.

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