Detailed homily for the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Theme: IMBIBING THE SPIRIT OF DETACHMENT
By: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka
Homily for Sunday October 10 2021
R1 – 53:10-11
R2 – Heb 4:14-16
GOSPEL – Mark 10:35-45
A story was told of a poor beggar who lived on alms he received from begging. One day on his begging rounds, he came upon a holy man, who was lost in prayer, sitting in seclusion in the forest. Approaching the holy man, the beggar asked for alms. Without a second thought the holy man put his hand into his pocket took out a large precious stone and gave it to the beggar. The beggar could not believe his eyes. Before the holy man could change his mind the beggar disappeared from the scene holding on to the jewel for dear life. He clutched it so tightly that his hands hurt. All along the way, he was suspicious of every one and reached his hut, tense and worried. Once inside his hut he locked himself and was sure that someone would come to attack him. He could not sleep at night for a moment for fear of losing the stone. He got up in the morning a mental wreck, exhausted, tense and worried. What was he going to do with this precious stone? He could not mix with others even of his own family lest they ask for it. Finally, he hurried to the holy man in the forest and quickly gave back the stone. The Holy man asked him why he was returning the precious stone. The beggar replied. “I don’t want the stone, it is ruining my life. But I want something else from you. When I asked you for alms, without a second thought you parted with that precious stone. Can you give me that spirit of detachment? Then I will be happy whether I have or don’t have anything!”
Beloved in Christ, Jesus calls our attention to lead a life motivated and guided by the spirit of detachment from earthly riches and material possessions. The entire readings of this Sunday’s liturgy exhort us to prioritize God in our lives over materialities because, we ought not possess anything in our life that will make us refuse to surrender to the Lord. Most times in life, material things possess us; and we become prisoners of our possessions when we give our “things” top priority in our lives. Thus, we violate the First Great Commandment – by prioritizing worldly tastes and values over God.
The Gospel reading extols the virtue of detachment as the major and truest source of happiness. Just as we observed from the introit story- many of us like the traumatized and disturbed beggar cannot find tranquility of soul in earthly riches, until, in the words of St Augustine, we find rest in God.
Moreover, we see Jesus’ encounter with the rich young man who comes to Jesus saying: “What should I do with my life? What should I do to be happy?” Perhaps, such are the questions we may have posed, with beautiful answers as, “once I get this job! once I make my first million! once I get my Visa! once I graduate! etc.” However, we realized that all these have never given us true happiness.
Furthermore, Jesus gives the young man the expected answer of his times. To be happy keep the commandments, and to be happier, imbibe the SPIRIT OF DETACHMENT: “Sell and you have, give the money to the poor and follow me” since this good young man really wanted more. He had kept all the laws, and yet he was not happy. Maybe we have sometimes experienced the same in our lives, we have been law-abiding citizens, but there seems to be something missing in our lives. Isn’t keeping the commandments and living a good moral life enough? Yes, it is good but not good enough!
Nevertheless, the first reading promotes and personalizes Wisdom as the most precious of all pearls which we must pursue at the expense of material possession and riches.This wisdom is God himself, who is the source and fountain of all things. Nothing can be compared with Her. Nothing has value without Her. Whoever possesses her has everything.
Hence, we must possess God who is this eternal wisdom, because, to possess her, is to possess the most precious of all wealth. And to posses this wisdom, we must first possess the _SPIRIT OF DETACHMENT._
Whereas, the second reading warns us that we are accountable before God as to how we use our blessings, and that the “living and effective word of God” must be our guide in evaluating the use of our blessings.
*WAS JESUS ACTUALLY AGAINST RICHES AND RICH MEN?*
Never! Jesus was never against riches. God himself who supplies all our needs according to his riches in glory (Phil 4:19), is the grandmaster of all riches. Jesus himself had rich friends and followers like, Joseph of Arimathea, Zachceaus, Nichodemus, etc.
Jesus only frowned at attachment to worldly tastes and values, because:
(i) Riches encourage a false sense of independence. The rich think that they can buy their way to happiness and buy their way out of sorrow and, hence, that they don’t need God.
(ii) Riches shackle a man to this earth (Mt. 6:21). If a man’s interests are all earth-bound, he never thinks of the hereafter. Instead of having security and tranquility, he becomes an eternal hostage of his money.
(iii) Riches if not properly guided tend to make a man selfish.
(iv) Avarice, the greed for money, is also the source of unhappiness. The avaricious person is an unhappy one. Distrusting everyone else.
So, What Jesus condemns is that disordered attachment to money and property which views acquiring, possessing, and hoarding them for oneself alone, as absolutely essential to maintain one’s life (Lk 12:13-21). In other words, Jesus is talking about our attitude towards wealth. There are very rich men who have acquired their wealth honestly and justly and who spend much of their wealth on charitable causes. Their wealth will not hinder them from reaching Heaven. On the other hand, there are many in the middle and lower income-bracket who may be offending against justice through the means they use to acquire and then to keep what they have, and in the little helps which they refuse to a needy neighbor. The Bible did not say that money is the root of all evil; it says that the love of money is the root of all evil (1Tim 6:10).
(1) *PRIORITIZE GOD FIRST*
The scriptures encourages us to seek God first in all we do and every other thing shall be added unto it (Mtt 6:33). King Solomon at the inception of his dynastic terrain in the first reading, prioritized God by chosing the eternal wisdom over earthly riches and affluence. Guess what! Boom… Testimonies abound. In the words of _St Teresa of the child Jesus_ , “onye nwere chineke enweghi ihe ona acho, soso chineke ezuworom” (He who prioritizes God lacks nothing, because God alone is enough for us).” May we be reminded that God alone is enough
(2) *ADOPT JESUS’ PLEA FOR A GENEROUS SHARING*
Jesus manifested the highest form of generosity by the free gift of His very self to save our lives eternally. To follow Jesus, we must have the same kind of generosity, and be willing to give our money, time, and talents away to serve the needs of others. In the heart of every Christian, there should be a desire to give. Even when we are blessed with riches, we are bound to use it to save lives and situations.
Finally, Steven Paul Jobs was an American business magnate, industrial designer, investor, and media proprietor, the chief executive officer (CEO), and co-founder of Apple Inc., who died a billionaire at 56yrs of Pancreatic Cancer
Among his last words on the sick bed are the following:
“I reached the pinnacle of success in the business world. In others’ eyes my life is an epitome of success.
However, aside from work, I have little joy. In the end, wealth is only a fact of life that I am accustomed to.
At this moment, lying on the sick bed and recalling my whole life, I realize that all the recognition and
wealth that I took so much pride in, have paled and become meaningless in the face of impending death.
You can employ someone to drive the car for you, make money for you but you cannot have someone to bear the sickness for you.
Material things lost can be found. But there is one thing that can never be found when it is lost – “Life”.
Beloved in Christ, indeed, life (eternal) when lost, cannot be found. Indeed, every of our wealth and recognitions as CHIEF/DR/BARR/HRH/HRM/ICHIE/NZE/OBA/CEO/REV/BISHOP/EZINNE/NNAOMA (PHD/MSC/MSA/STD/CON/CFRN), become meaningless in the face of impending last four things, viz: death, judgement, heaven or hell. Imagine the CEO of Apple phone, a billionaire who got accosted with making money; a man who had money to sort himself in all things; being helpless amidst death threats and telling the world, the futility of our earthly riches, meaninglessness of human existence and vain pursuit of wealth. Prioritize and seek God above all else.
MAY THE SPIRIT OF THE MOST HIGH GOD DECORATE US WITH A DETACHED SOUL THAT IS FREE FROM ALL THE ENTANGLEMENTS OF WORLDLY TASTES AND VALUES. AMEN!
*GOD BLESS YOU!*
_FR GERALD MUOKA._
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