8.21.18 Tues.. wk. 20 – O. T. (II)
Ezekiel 28: 1 – 10
Gospel Matthew 19: 23 – 30
Jesus said to his disciples: “Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” Then Peter said to him in reply, “We have given up everything and followed you. What will there be for us?” †Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me, in the new age, when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first. The Gospel of the Lord.
Homily: Fr. Mike Murphy With the Help of God
“For God all things are possible” (Matt.19:26), and we believe that these words are true; God can do all things. Throughout human history, many have believed that they could do everything. In Babel, the people believed they could build a tower to heaven, and therefore be equal to God. Emperors in Rome believed it was possible to conquer the world, making themselves gods. We have built grand structures like the Taj Mahal, the Coliseum in Rome, and the many wonders of the world. People believe that these structures rivaled the works of God. We have landed men on the moon, we have unraveled the genome, we have created artificial intelligence and robots equal to or improve the work that we can do as human beings.
A human fallacy however, is the belief that we can do everything on our own. In fact many people today, and unfortunately, many young people, believe that God is irrelevant in their lives, because they can do it all. Everything they need is in the palm of their hand, in their smartphone, and they don’t need God for anything.
In the first reading this morning, the prince of Tyre thought he could do it all alone; he did not need God in his life. So the Lord told him through the prophet: “Because you have thought yourself to have the mind of God…I will bring against you foreigners, the most barbarous of nations.” (Sir.28:1-10) His dependence upon himself would be the undoing of this prince.
And in the Gospel – †Jesus shocked His disciples saying: “It would be hard for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God”.(Matt.19:23) This went against everything they knew – everything they had been taught. They thought that riches meant: ‘Favor with God’. St Augustine wrote: “Even though you possess plenty, you are still poor. You abound in temporal possessions – but you need things eternal. You listen to the needs of a human beggar – yet you yourself are a beggar of God”. (Sermon 56.9)
†Jesus was not hostile toward the wealthy, by any stretch of the imagination. Those who used their gifts to prosper, He has no problems with them. In fact – †Jesus Himself had many wealthy friends: Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. He was friends with wealthy tax collectors, in fact – one of them became an apostle. †Jesus also had well-to-do-friends like Mary Magdalene and Johanna who helped support Him in His three years of public ministry. †Jesus is simply pointing out that wealth can make us reliant on our self rather than on God. We must let God be God – and walk humbly before the Lord – being grateful for what we have. We must also embrace the virtue of detachment – to be free of anything in life that is a barrier to God: attitudes, fear, our appearance, our reputation, and yes, our wealth. Anything can be a barrier to God and that is what we have to remove from our life.
Thomas Merton wrote: “When our minds and wills are perfectly free from every created attachment they are immediately filled with the gift of God’s love. Not because things necessarily have to happen that way, but because this is His Will, the gift of His love for us”. (New Seeds of Contemplation; 1961, Abbey of Gethsemane, Inc.; New Directions Publishing Corp.) According to Merton – we experience God in proportion to how we are emptied of attachments to things. St. Pius X, before he died made this statement: “I was born poor, I lived poor and I die poor”. Here was a man who had all the wealth and power of the Catholic Church at his fingertips, and yet – he was not attached to any of it. He learned to detach himself.
Here is the good news: if we have been possessive, attached, selfish, and self-centered in our life we can still embrace our call to be saints; to be holy as God is Holy. Begin today to be humble, meek, and selfless. Detach yourself from things or relationships that take you away from loving God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, all your mind and loving your neighbor as yourself. Let God be God! Even with all our achievements we are not equal to God; God must be relevant in our lives. God will take us to His heavenly Kingdom if we let Him. If we’re not holding on to things of this life, He will take us.
In looking at your life you may be saying to yourself: ‘I don’t know if I can do this”. Well you’re right. You can’t do this but all things are possible with God. Just ask Him to help you!
In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.