Spiritual Growth

Scripture Study For Next Sunday

Sunday, October 11, 2015, is the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The readings will be: Wisdom 7:7-11; Hebrews 4:12-13; and Mark 10:17-30.

In the first reading, we hear King Solomon recall his prayer for wisdom and prudence, reflecting on the fact that he has preferred these virtues to riches, power, health, or beauty. Through wisdom and prudence “all good things came together to me...and countless riches at her [Wisdom’s] hands,” says Solomon. It is these virtues that have enabled Solomon to “see as God sees” rather than as the world sees.

This Wisdom reading provides a backdrop for the Gospel reading in which a rich man who has faithfully kept the commandments approaches Jesus and asks what else he must do to share eternal life. Jesus tells him to go and sell what he has and give it to the poor. Finding that instruction difficult, the man’s “face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.” Ironically, the disciples who often misunderstand Jesus get it right this time and they perceive the significant challenge in Jesus’ statement. “Then who can be saved?” they ask, and Peter adds “We have given up everything and followed you.” Jesus replies “...there is no one who has given up [everything]...for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive...eternal life in the age to come.”

The Gospel always provides both hope and challenge. Everything in our lives must be examined with wisdom through the “eyes” of discipleship. Wealth, for example, can be a particular obstacle that distracts us from God and contributes to the poverty of others. Discipleship often feels risky, but the Scriptures remind us that God provides for those who risk for the sake of the Gospel, both in the “present age” and in the age to come.

Rose Davis

Spiritual Growth

How Large Is Your Heaven?

One of the marks of a Christian heart is the desire for inclusivity, the desire to ultimately be in communion with as many people as possible, to have everyone in heaven with you without demanding that they become just like you to get there. Sadly, we tend to harbor the opposite attitude, though we are slow to admit this.

We all like to think of ourselves as big-hearted, as having wide compassion, and as loving like Jesus did, but too much within both our attitudes and our actions belie this. Our own love, truth, and worship are often unconsciously predicated on making ourselves right by making others wrong.

Too often we have an unconscious mantra that says: I can only be good, if someone else is bad. I can only be right, if someone else is wrong. My dogma can only be true, if someone else's is false. My religion can only be right, if someone else's is wrong. My Eucharist can only be valid, if someone else's is invalid. And I can only be in heaven, if someone else is in hell.

We justify this attitude of separation and moral-religious superiority by appealing to various things: correct dogma, the need for justice, proper morality, right ecclesiology, and correct liturgical practice, among other things.

Our Christian scriptures and our subsequent tradition warn clearly that there are certain rights and wrongs and that certain attitudes and actions can exclude us from the God's Kingdom, heaven. But those same scriptures make it equally clear that God's salvific will is universal and that God's deep, constant, passionate longing is that everyone, absolutely everyone, regardless of their attitude and actions, be somehow brought into the house.

God, it seems, does not want to rest until everyone is home, eating at the same table. 

Ron Rolheiser

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