Homily for the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Theme: Choosing Between Material Wealth and Wisdom
By: Fr. Luke Ijezie
Homily for Sunday October 10 2021
1. Life is full of options. We are exposed to making many choices every day. The quality of our lives often depends on the type of choices we make. A particular choice made can ruin or enhance life. One needs a good dose of wisdom to be able to make good choices. There is this story of a rich man who wanted to help two young men in his village. He asked each to choose either the gift of a large sum of money or the offer of being his servant and errand boy. The first immediately chose the large sum of money while the other chose to serve the rich man. The first youth, not being well tutored in the art of judicious use of money, quickly squandered the money, which ran into millions of Naira, in loose living. The second youth became a very dutiful and dependent servant and later got rewarded by the rich master with half his property and manager of his estates. Surely, the second youth was far wiser than the first who was deceived by the idea of quick money without toil. He was foolish, and there are many like him in every society. This story plays out in many ways in the readings of this 28th Sunday of the year.
2. In the Gospel from Mark 10:17-30, Jesus invites the rich man, whom he really loved, to sell all his material wealth and follow him. What an invitation! The rich man was sincerely desirous of being perfect. He probably knew his great wealth was not capable for winning him a perfect life and the type of happiness he desired. Jesus recognized this and wanted to help him realize his quest. The great Master had quickly done a diagnosis and noticed what the man’s problem was. He was distracted by that which apparently made him great in the society: his great wealth. Jesus asked him to abandon all these and follow him, that is, to become his disciple. The man’s face fell. Why? Why was he sorrowful at such invitation? The man would have loved to follow Jesus, but the attraction of wealth was too much to overcome. He wanted life but could not pay the cost. He was living in bondage to material possessions. If only he had known who Jesus really was! If only he had known what type of life Jesus was inviting him to share! Poor rich man! He was afraid to lose the security of his possession. So he made a choice for his wealth rather than discipleship to Jesus. Just like in the case of the young man in our story, this rich man rejected being a servant of Jesus and chose money instead. Little did he know that those who leave all to follow Jesus still receive a hundredfold of possessions plus eternal life. He was not wise enough. Jesus was, as it were, telling him: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these other things will be added unto you” (Matt 6:33). There is nothing that blinds the human person as the excessive attachment to material possessions. It has ruined many and caused much disaster in the society.
3. The first reading from the book of Wisdom highlights the joyful testimony of the one who chose wisdom above material wealth. The radiance of wisdom was so bright and so illuminating that all good things came along with her, including wealth. The text recalls the experience of King Solomon who asked for wisdom, and great wealth came along with it.
The real wisdom comes through openness to God’s illumination which endows one with the understanding to make right choices in life. The wise person realises how ephemeral and empty this material world is, and so anchors himself or herself on higher values and more enduring realities As the famous Psalm 90:12 says: “Teach us the number of our days that we may gain wisdom of heart.” Unfortunately, this wisdom of heart is lacking in many people. Is it not the height of stupidity for one to defraud and kill in order to appropriate a piece of land that belongs to another but only to die immediately one acquires the land? Is it not the height of ignorance for one to acquire all the lands of the poor in the village and only to die and be buried in a grave of not more than six feet or even much less and soon be eaten by ants and maggots? We find these brands of madness plenty in our kind of consumer society.
4. The word of God remains a point of reference and source of guidance in our choices in the journey of life. The second reading from Heb 4:12-13 gives a powerful imagery of the word of God. It is always alive and active, and sharper than any double-edged sword. It means that the word of God has the power to cut though all the obstacles and barriers which prevent the truth from shining out in one’s life. It helps one to recognize the truth in the midst of dangerous false ideas and deceptive messages. One needs constant meditation on the word of God to be able to make adequate decisions that can enhance personal life. This means constant openness to God’s light. As the author of th e book of Wisdom says: “I prayed and understanding was given me; I called upon God, and the spirit of wisdom came to me” (Wisd 7:7).
One imagines what our lives would have become if we had made better choices. We can imagine how many times we have lost opportunities of greatness because of foolish choices. We can imagine how many times we have failed to recognize God’s gifts among us because we turned our gazes in other directions. My prayer is that God may enlighten the eyes of our hearts and minds that we may understand and appreciate the great treasures that lie ahead of us as His faithful servants!
Fr. Luke Ijezie