28th Sunday of Ordinary Time ~ 10 October 2021 ~ Bible Readings for Mass: I: Wisdom 7: 7-11; Responsorial: Psalm 90; II: Hebrews 4: 12-13; Gospel: Mark 10: 17-30
The mercy and love of God is so beautiful! Our Savior’s love is revealed in His word, through the Church and in the sacraments. It is also magnified and explained in the sacrament of creation as well. In the Autumn season we relish the cooler weather and hope for rains to come. It is a time of distinctive beauty that would amplify a vibrant lesson from our Creator, the lesson of Values. As we look to the splendor of Fall colors and changes we are seeing many trees, plants at perhaps their most golden beauty. It is the season of majestic color, golds, ruby reds, rich emeralds, and vibrant oranges witness to the beauty and value of each tree or plant.
But the wealth of beauty doesn’t last. The leaves will brown and shrivel and fall. Their journey to the moldering soil will soon be covered in winter chill moisture. It is a season when we are reminded of the power of letting go. It is a season when we are reminded that true values are not in appearances and possessions but in LIFE consecrated to the designs of God. It is a time of learning afresh of those values that matter. Now and for eternity.
To better understand our personal values we might consider our valuables. It is ironic that the values, the valuables of the world so often must be hidden and protected from the thieves of this world. The current market for monitoring and alarm systems for houses and valuables is explosive in sales as marketing fuels the fears that push us to invest more and more in our valuables, our possessions. It may be difficult but periodically we should honestly ask what do I possess? Or What possesses me?
The treasure of the Word of God this Sunday brings us a wealth of values in which we can freely invest with no need to hide away but that we can abundantly share.
In our Old Testament gem from the Book of Wisdom we are reminded of what is both a true value but also a resource essential to invest in more values from God. The quest for the wisdom of God is a journey that leads to values of lasting beauty and power. We are continually barraged with the sales schemes of the world that promise IF we POSSESS this car or that clothing our life will be forever enriched. These sales bombardments apply also to electronic devices that promise speed and knowledge to gain the power that was first promised in a garden long ago. We are promised that if this array of pills is used for our health that life will (by all appearances) be filled with lasting smiles and endless days. Again the temptation to possess valuables, as opposed to values is very strong. That strength is bound with a firm reality. We are created to need things…food, clothing, shelter, transportation, and at times medical care. All these very good things are needed. But they were never intended to be our precious valuables. So we need God’s wisdom to seek that which really matters, God’s values.
The gospel reading from Mark relates the story of the rich young man who was interested in following Jesus. He was very intrigued until….. Christ told him to sell all his possessions, give the proceeds to the poor and come, follow Him. The young man was unable to let go. The young man cherished his valuables more than the lasting values God longed to share.
Perhaps we may be tempted to look down on the young man for being so materialistic. But we must allow the loving wisdom of God to show us other valuables we may cherish. Our pride with which we polish and protect our wounds to gleaming resentments and unforgiveness is a valuable that owns many a soul. Our own selfish ambitions that affirm, however falsely, the assumed right of our plans and understandings of life that would guide us away from the joy of God’s designs. The fleshly lusts that would seek to own our affections and appetites and fill us with the emptiness of life longing for God’s true love. Each of these false valuables need to be revealed and removed by the grace of God’s life bringing Word.
The reading from Hebrews witnesses to the power of Scripture to reveal and enable the true values of God. As we allow the Holy Spirit to take the Sword of the Spirit into our lives we are freed and healed to both recognize false valuables that may possess us and then empowered to live the quest of eternal values for this life and eternity.
Following Jesus is to grow in values of beauty and variety that we cannot imagine. We can speak of God’s love, the awe of holiness, the exquisite joys of mercy and the blessings of holy poverty. Or the profound value of life, with values not predicated by development, age, beauty or wealth. But those words fail to either encompass or fully express the values we are called to find and..share. It is exciting to know God’s values need not, should not be kept hidden away in a safe or lockbox. They are given…to be given.
And the quest for the values of God are not confined to some obscure, secret treasure map. While they are richer than gold they are not to be sought in secret for fear of others finding the treasure first. The quest for the values of God is the shared call of all of Christ’s followers. It is a shared quest of valor, faith and commitment bound in His love. It takes true courage to follow Jesus. It is a path that can only be followed in faith. And it is a quest that is responding to the realization of love that comes from God alone. If the young man in the Gospel had only looked away from his valuables and had seen the love with which Jesus called him his life would have been eternally changed.
It brings us to realize that as we live through another season of Autumn that we too are being called by Jesus to yes, cherish the beauty that we may see in the valuables of life, but to also let go and look to Him who is watching us in love and recognize our true values we are called to share.