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All of these I have observed from my youth

By 13 October, 2018January 3rd, 2023No Comments
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By F. Luis Casasús, General Superior of Idente missionaries
Commentary on the XXVIII Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 14 2018,  Paris.
(Book of Wisdom 7,7-11; Letter to the Hebrews 4,12-13; Saint Mark 10,17-30).

We owe a great deal to the young rich man depicted in today’s Gospel. He can serve as a mirror in which to see ourselves and our fellowmen. We should not only look at his regrettable refusal to follow Christ, although this also reflects our own attitude, manifested in many different forms. 1. Taking the initiative of approaching Jesus reveals a deep need to find the fullness of life. We should remember this whenever we encounter any person, agreeable or disagreeable, believer or unbeliever, friend, relative or colleague. Oftentimes, we are not consistent with this profound impulse and the outcome is a division in our life. When Queen Elizabeth of Belgium made a state visit to Communist Warsaw in 1956, she was assigned a Polish protocol officer to accompany her to Mass. As they traveled to the church, she asked him: Are you a Catholic? He replied: Believing but not practicing. She said: I see; then you must be a Communist. And he answered: Practicing, your majesty, but not believing.

Our father Founder, talking about the young rich man said: A state of confusion, a state of ambiguity was in that restless heart and, similarly, the restlessness in the heart of so many human beings, from century to century, from the beginning of the world until the end (July 3, 1977). The rich young man has no peace because God and riches cannot be kept in combination This restless desire, What lack I yet? What more can I do? in our hearts indicates that we have not been completely anesthetized by sin, success, failure, power or doubts. If we are docile, one day we will say with St. Augustin: You were within me Lord, but I was outside myself. Yes, now we do not speak of our ego; there are already quite a number of attachments to the world to keep us enslaved and absorbed:

To the things we have and to what we do not have. To some activities we do and to other activities that we are not able to undertake. To food or diet, entertainment or knowledge, new things, money, beauty and new experiences.

We are so stubborn that we want to reconcile God and World, like a man who, carried a suitcase in one hand and a Bible in the other. A friend asked where he was going. The fellow answered: I’m going to Las Vegas. I hear they have a lot of alcohol, gambling, shows and all kinds of fun things to do. The friend asked: Well, why are you taking your Bible? He answered: If it is as fun as they say it is, I might stay through Sunday!

Regardless of whether it is moral or immoral, the tragedy is that all this is in competition with God. It seems that this great and restless desire in the young rich man was smothered out by greed for worldly riches. It is not enough to be materially separated of things, or avoiding mindless activities. the diagnosis of Christ is: Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
2. Where this inconsistency comes from? This is due to our lack of wisdom (not just absence of some form of “knowledge”). This naturally brings us to the First Reading, which teaches us that wisdom is a gift, a light we receive to see the true value of things, to see things as they really are, because we are unable to achieve it due to the limits of our understanding and our sinful nature.

“Then who can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God.

How can we get the most of this gift? Our father Founder gives a brief and masterful answer:
The method of wisdom is nothing like the methods of other sciences, for it consists in suffering, and its fullness is death. There are many ways to dying, but I am not referring here to physical death, but to that death to oneself that we have to observe every day to be enriched by this methodical procedure inspired by the Father, concelebrated by the Son and the Holy Spirit, in order to move away from foolishness, which is exactly the opposite of that wisdom in which, on the other hand, lies the science of God. (Sept. 11, 1981 and Feb. 27, 1982).

There is food for thought here. Many of us would be willing to renounce to our money (…especially those of us who do not have much cash), but look at what the First Reading says of Wisdom: Beyond health and comeliness, I loved her. Are we sure? On more than one occasion, I have found myself asking God: Give me health to serve you! Good health is a wonderful thing, but on some occasions, the plan of God for me might not include it.

The gift of Wisdom provides meaning to everything, especially suffering. Psychiatrist and concentration camp survivor Viktor Frankl, suggested that a search for meaning transforms suffering into a positive, life-altering experience: In some way, suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice…. Suffering is endowed with meaning when it is attached to a perception of a divine calling in one’s life, the strong feeling that all events can be used to fulfill God’s greater and mysterious purpose. In this manner, wisdom improves and perfects suffering, its own “method”. Apart from that, it is clear that, from the community viewpoint, suffering brings people together and is much better than joy at creating bonds among group members.

Spiritual and cultural traditions from around the world emphasize that although life can be painful, a higher power is at work using our circumstances to humble us and to shape us into what he, she, or it wants us to be. Suffering serves the purpose of humbling us and waking us from the dream of self-sufficiency. For example, in Homer’s Odyssey, the hero Odysseus descends to Hades where he meets the blind prophet Tiresias. Only at this lowest of points, in the depths of the underworld, is Odysseus given the gift of insight about how to become the wise ruler of Ithaca.

One of the most significant experiences in receiving this gift of wisdom is the certainty and clear view of how one or more persons are intimately connected to my spiritual life and behavior, to the point that I become fully responsible for their spiritual development…and this can happen precisely at the times when I acutely experience my moral weakness, my lack of strength and my spiritual poverty.

3. What is God calling me to do? The important thing is not whether He is asking me an overwhelming task or a simple gesture. Wisdom allows us to implement and to put into practice things which we never attempted before. Spiritual wisdom illuminates those areas of our lives where we could have tried harder, precisely because we were able to do so. In fact, Christ judges not the weak heart that struggles, but rather the strong heart that does not bother.

The rich man could have followed Jesus and given his money to the poor, but he did not. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, the priest and the Levite could have cared for the wounded man, but they did not. In the last judgment (Mt 25:31-46), those who are condemned are told their fault lies in their unwillingness to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, and clothe the naked.

In every case, a sin is an omitted good. Yet, the negative consequence is based not so much on what we did do as much as what we failed to do. Inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.

I hope that nobody should think that sins of commission are not important, rather, when we fall into them, we grieve the Holy Spirit of God and in addition, we miss an opportunity to offering our struggle with temptation.

In Romans 12 we find these challenging words: Do not be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is; what is good and pleasing and mature.

Going the extra-mile, turning the other cheek, or selling what we have, and giving to the poor are examples of letting wisdom guide us. Probably we do not see ourselves as rich people. To be rich is not just to have a lot of money, it is to have time, knowledge, health, a few talents and experiences to be shared and given away or used for love and for mercy.

God is the only One who can do this in our lives, because He is the only One who knows what is spiritual and what is worldly. We could never accomplish this discernment in our own strength or by our own good will. The Second Reading says: For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

The following story is a beautiful illustration of wisely going the extra mile just to strive to please the Master:
A famous violinist was to perform at a concert hall of world renown. As he stood before the packed house that night and played his violin, he mesmerized the audience with his prowess and skill. As he lifted his bow off the string on his final note, the hall erupted with thunderous applause and he was given a standing ovation. He looked at the crowd for a moment and walked off the stage only to return to render an encore performance. To the amazement of the masses gathered there that night, his encore performance was even more beautiful and flawless than the first.

He looked to the audience and left the stage for the second time, but was beckoned back by the multitudes that once again stood to their feet in adulation. He gave yet another encore number, leaving the audience fumbling for words that could describe what they just experienced. This sequence was repeated several more times until finally this virtuoso finished his piece, looked to the audience, nodded his head and simply walked off the stage while the cheers could still be heard long after he exited. Reporters pressed outside the violinist’s dressing room, waiting to catch a word from the man who had just given the performance of a lifetime. As he emerged from the small room, one reporter asked the question: Sir, why did you give so many encore performances? You could have stopped after the first and everyone would have been amazed. The violinist stopped and replied: For the very first time in my career, my master, the one who taught me to play the violin, was in the audience. When I finished my performance, everyone stood except for one person. I played again, and everyone stood to applaud except for him. I continued to play. On the conclusion of the last encore I looked into the seats and I noticed that everyone, including my master, was standing and applauding. It was only then that I was satisfied that I had done a good job.

Tips to make the most of the Holy Mass

11. The Communion Rite. The Lord’s Prayer. Since the celebration of the Eucharist is the Paschal Banquet, it is desirable that in accordance with the Lord’s command his Body and Blood should be received as spiritual food by those of the faithful who are properly disposed. This is the sense of the fraction and the other preparatory rites by which the faithful are led more immediately to Communion.

In the Lord’s Prayer (Our Father, who art in heaven…) a petition is made for daily bread, which for Christians means principally the Eucharistic Bread, and entreating also purification from sin, so that what is holy may in truth be given to those who want to be holy. The priest pronounces the invitation to the prayer, and all the faithful say the prayer with him; then the priest alone adds the embolism, which the people conclude by means of the doxology. The embolism (Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil…) develops the last petition of the Lord’s Prayer itself, asks for deliverance from the power of evil for the whole community of the faithful. The congregation concludes this petition by means of the doxology: For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours now and forever, which re-takes, implicitly, the first three petitions of the Lord’s Prayer.