Monday, 12 October 2015

A CANADIAN THANKSGIVING REFLECTION (TRINITY 19 - 28B) Homily at STM Toronto, Oct. 11, 2015

“What shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

The rich young man in today’s Gospel wanted to know the answer to a question we all have: How are we to live now so that we may live with God forever? He sought what today’s reading from the Wisdom of Solomon calls “the spirit of wisdom” and what we may call the wisdom of the heart.
The young man learned that the wisdom he sought is not a programme of works to be completed or a list of rules to be followed or behaviours to be avoided. As Jesus tells him, observing the commandments is essential to walking the path of salvation—but it can only get us so far.

The Wisdom of God is not a precept, but a person — Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Incarnate Wisdom of God, the same Logos, the same spirit of wisdom sought by and given to Solomon.

Jesus is the Word of God spoken of in today’s Epistle. Jesus, as he reveals himself to the rich man, is God.

In Jesus we encounter Wisdom, the living and effective Word of God and just as Jesus looks at the rich young man, he looks upon each of us with love. That look of love, that loving gaze, is a personal invitation — to follow in his path of self-giving, to offer ourselves unreservedly – to follow him.

And Jesus gives us the answer. What is not possible for people, is possible for God. It is possible for Jesus. It is Jesus himself, who is God. As God with us (Emmanuel), he follows all the commandments, does the Father’s will.  Jesus himself, who is God, sacrifices himself totally— giving everything he has, even his life for us.

This self-giving love is the source of our thanksgiving, of our eucharist.

Jesus opens the floodgate of grace for us and makes our salvation possible. What Jesus did accomplishes what is not possible for any of us alone; he enables us, by grace, to carry out good works. This is our reason for thanksgiving to God, the incarnate God who is with us, for us, among us and offering eternal life for us and for others through us.

However, nothing is concealed from God’s gaze, as we hear in the Epistle. In God’s eyes, the thoughts of our hearts are exposed, and each of us must render an account of our lives. His sword of truth cuts through the lies and deceits of the world.

In order to pursue eternal life we need the attitude of Solomon, preferring Wisdom to all else, loving God more than even life on earth itself because life, and all we possess, is a gift, not to be clung to as Jesus saw the young man doing.  This choice, this love, requires a leap of faith and we will be persecuted for this faith (as we know to one degree or another having chosen the Catholic faith).

But, we trust in God’s promise—that all good things will come to us as we ask for them and as we require them, both now and forever. This is who we thank, not ourselves or fate but the incarnate Word, Jesus, who is at the source of all things.

What, then, are the “many possessions” that keep us from giving ourselves totally to God? What are we clinging to?  Are these material things, comfort zones, power, position, relationships? What will it take for us to live fully for Christ and the sake of the Gospel?

Let us pray for the wisdom to continue to walk into the kingdom of God.

The good news today is that we do not have to go away grieving like the young man. We don’t have to tune out the message Jesus challenges us with regarding out attitude towards possessions. We can embrace the gift of God’s grace with true thanksgiving.  

We cannot earn salvation on our own, anymore than a camel can pass through the eye of a needle; but Jesus has opened the path to eternal life, despite our failings, because what is impossible for us alone, is possible in and through our relationship with Jesus.

Our yearning for God is grace, what we do for God as our response is also grace, and whatever we do in co-operation with God bears fruit because of grace. That is good news indeed and is the answer to the question:

“What shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

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