October 14, 2018

GSC 14th October 2018

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In today`s scripture readings we see how complementary they are to each other.   The wonderful four verses from ch. 7 of the Book of Wisdom – a book written, probably in the second half of the first century before Christ and, thus, perhaps the last book of the Old Testament in timing.   What is more it is in Greek and not Hebrew and certainly not written in the time of King Solomon but rather much later and by a Greek-speaking Jewish teacher, probably from that diaspora in or around Alexandria in Egypt and written, by the anonymous author, presumably to consolidate the faith of the Jewish diaspora in Egypt.
The short passage relates to how Solomon in the past had got his priorities right:   `I prayed and understanding was given me; I entreated, and the spirit of Wisdom came to me.   I esteemed her more than sceptres and thrones;  compared with her, I held riches as nothing.`
This first passage prepares well for the Gospel story of the man who came to Jesus, who was himself on that last journey up to Jerusalem, and falling to his knees before the Lord asked, `Good Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life ?`   In the version of the story found in St. Luke`s Gospel the man is referred to as a `ruler` meaning someone important.  Clearly the man had the right desire and, it would seem, recognises that there is something special about Jesus.   Jesus reveals his humility in the answer that he gives the man, `Why do you call me good ?  No one is good but God alone.   Jesus then recited the commandments of Moses and gets the reply, ` Master, I have kept all these from  my earliest days.`   We then find Jesus looking steadily at him – as it were looking into his soul – and we are told that Jesus clearly showed divine love towards the man as he sent on, `There is one thing that you lack.   Go and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven;  then come, follow me.`   We are told that the man`s face fell and he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.
It is then, of course, that Jesus tells his disciples, `How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!`
It is about priorities, commitment and obedience.  Only recently as a Gospel reading concerning  Martha and Mary, the two sisters from Bethany who, with their brother Lazarus, were great personal friends of Jesus, full of hospitality, was busy preparing the meal for Jesus while Mary her sister was sitting at the Lord`s feet listening carefully to what he had to say when Jesus commended her for her wisdom in listening to him and, chastised Martha for busying.
We are told that the rich man went away sad somehow he could not let go of his worldly wealth in order to embrace the Kingdom of God by, literally, following Jesus.  Jesus re-emphasises how hard it is for those with temporal riches to enter the kingdom of God even to the point of saying that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.   His followers were astonished at his saying, so much so, that they asked, `In that case who can be saved ?`  Jesus, both to ease their fears and to encourage gazed at them saying, `For men it is impossible, but not for God:  because everything is possible for God.`
As that old evangelical chorus puts it: “Trust and obey, for there`s no other way, but to love the Lord Jesus and to trust and obey.`
To be a Christian is no easy task for elsewhere Jesus says quite firmly, `If anyone would be a follower of mine must take up his cross and follow me!`
The Wisdom of God is none other than the person of Jesus, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity who, by virtue of His incarnation is our Saviour and Lord, our Shepherd, our Master, our Judge Eternal and our Brother and our Friend.   He is alive and active…..   No created thing can hide from him; everything is uncovered and open to the eyes of the one to whom we must give account of ourselves` and these words we find in the Letter to the Hebrews that great letter, by an unknown author who so succinctly described the High Priestly nature of Jesus the Son of God.
The treasures of this earthly life are as nothing compared with what is to come by following the way of Jesus Christ and His promise is that should we wish to follow in that way he will pour forth that grace which we will make it possible for us.  We can be so tied to our earthly possessions or, indeed, relationships that they block the way of the Lord and become false gods in themselves.
Let us always be ready to take Jesus at his word for He is indeed, the Word of Life.
Amen.