28th Sunday – OTB

Wisdom 7, 7-11; Psalm 90, 12-17; Hebrews 4, 12-13; St. Mark 10, 17-30

“Oh Lord, hit him again!” The parish church was badly in need of repair. So the pastor called a special meeting to raise funds. At the assembly, the pastor explained the need of an emergency fund for plastering the roof and supporting pillars and for carrying out other items of repair. He invited the congregation to pledge contributions. After a brief pause, Mr. Murphy, the richest man in the parish, volunteered to give 50 dollars. Just as he sat down, a hunk of plaster fell from the ceiling on his head. He jumped up, looked terribly startled and said: “I meant to say 500 dollars.” The congregation stood silent and stunned. Then a lone voice cried out from the back: “Oh Lord, hit him again!”

Today’s gospel presents a rich young man who wants eternal life but will not give up his riches. Obviously, this young man who came to Jesus in search of eternal life really wanted to be accepted by Jesus as a disciple. However, Jesus did not want this man as a disciple on his own terms, but rather on Jesus’ terms. The young man claimed that, from his youth, he had observed all the commandments Jesus mentioned, including the fourth commandment. His tragedy was that he loved “things” more than people. He was trapped by the idea that he could keep his possessions and still obtain God’s mercy. He failed to realize the fact that his riches had built a wall between himself and God. In other words, his possessions “possessed” him. Even though the rich man had never killed, stolen, or committed adultery, he was breaking both the commandment forbidding idolatry and the one commanding love of neighbor. He worshiped his wealth more than God. His sin was sins of omission.

Jesus told the young man that, if he wanted to be perfect, keeping the commandments was not enough. He challenged the young man to share his riches with the poor. “There is one thing lacking. Sell all you have and give to the poor, and then you will have real treasure. After that, come and be with me.”

Jesus thus makes it clear that a true follower who wants to possess eternal life must not only be a respectable gentleman who hurts nobody, but also someone who shares his riches, talents and other blessings with the less fortunate.

On Thursday Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass marking the 50th anniversary of the Opening of the Second Vatican Council and launching the Year of Faith. Pope is asking every one of us to live out our faith. “Today, more than ever”, he tells, “Evangelizing means witnessing to the new life, transformed by God, and thus showing the path.”

Peter and John went to the temple to pray (Acts 3:1-10). A man who was born crippled begged for arms. Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!” And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. With a leap he stood upright and began to walk;”

We all may not have big bank accounts to share, but all have our faith to share. Let me share with you my personal faith experience. When was doing my philosophy in Bangalor I suffered from perennial cold. I could not breathe well because of nose blockage. All medication from the local clinic never worked. I asked God to heal me, if he wants me to be a priest. Not just one or two days but for three years spending sleepless nights. At the end of the 3rd year of philosophy, I went to a specialist who told me that I should have a surgery. I was not prepared for it. In the same year I had the opportunity to attend a Charismatic retreat in Kerala (at Potta), meant only for priests and religious. There were more than 800 participants in the retreat. Every day during this retreat there was a special prayer for physical healing. On the 3rd day of the retreat, the retreat preacher announced from the stage, that 4 people are healed from their perennial cold and one among them is John Peter. I never met this guy before to tell him that I’m prayer for this. I was only in a corner of the big crowd of people praying. Yet he announced my name that God has healed me from this cold. Since 1993 I am free from this physical suffering.

The words of the Gospel today remind me every time, “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.” Have faith and share your faith with others. God will continue to bless you.