There is great satisfaction in completing a task. The partial remains a nagging bother. We receive compliments humbly when the full complement of tasks are arranged. Total is our desire and the incomplete damages our egos.
We are invited through our Eucharistic spirituality to live peacefully with our desires for the infinite while constantly experiencing our own and others, fragmentitude. The Holy Bread is broken, and the community moves from the experiencing of the One Body blessed and sent. It is sent for distribution. We prepare for the gathering by picking up our partials with their accompanying disappointments, and head for the “blessing-Place”, the Sending-Place, that is the Eucharistic table. There our personal and communal partials are blessed and we are to live them as holy-not-quites.
The six verses which proceed our First Reading from the Book of Wisdom are simple declarations that the great King Solomon was conceived, born and raised just as do all humans. This whole chapter is worth reading and prayed with slowly.
Our five verses are a praise of the God Who gives the king such wisdom. He prayed and God has given him prudence which he sees as that which has guided him all his life. The reading is full of examples highlighting how Solomon made choices. This prudence freed him from the natural inclinations to wealth, health, comeliness, and even light.
Solomon admits that all these gems and silver and power did come to him as a result of living with this gift from God, prudence.
This is one humble man who knows what things are and are not. He is given the gift of knowing from where things come and where they lead. Prudence is a reverence for, a vision of, his personal giftedness and as he states two verses after our Reading, “What I learned without self-interest, I pass on without reserve; I do not intend to hide her riches.”
The Gospel seems simple, but has some strong statements about money. The opening scene, as usual, creates a tension into which Jesus steps and speaks His message. A rich fellow asks a good question about what is required so as “to inherit eternal life”. Jesus reads the laws according to Jewish tradition and the man affirms that he has completed them all quite well.
Jesus knows the requirements of the Law, but here in this single moment ups the expectation of His New Law. Instead of “inheriting eternal life” by keeping certain commands, abundance in this life and life eternal will be for those who leave everything as their identity and entitlement and follow Jesus. In the Jewish history, health, wealth, large families and homes were absolute signs of God’s blessing. To have much and many meant that the Jewish person had done all things rightly. Jesus is changing the rules and this young fellow, in his personal race to win the prize of salvation, hits the wall and walks away in sadness. Jesus loved him and offered him a new way in. The tension increases now for those who have been His followers, the new is presented for them as well.
The image of a camel entering the eye of a needle does get our attention, as many of the images which Jesus uses, often do. Jesus admits the truth that for humans to enter into the kingdom of God is so very hard. His followers see this and kind of complain about the apparent impossibility for them. Jesus comforts them by saying that with God, what seems impossible is not. Peter of course has his own variety of complaint. He and the others have left everything to follow Jesus. Jesus emphasizes His main point once more. Take the risk of emptiness and see if you can receive the mystery contained in the future.
Often, with Jesus, it is the question about the importance of what we have in hand versus having our hands open to receive what is promised in the unknown-to-come.
I will be celebrating a jubilee mass the Sunday of these readings. Dedicated religious women will be honored, admired, prayed over for their responses over the years to Gospel Readings just like this. They have been trying to leave behind possessions, families, riches, and property. They have tried to do the impossible, but they lived lives of trying to experience God’s possibility. Did they do all this perfectly, their community members will celebrate that they kept trying. Their years have been filled with the reception of “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.”
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