Homily 28th Sunday of Year B: Michael U. Udoekpo
Reading: Wis 7:7-11; Ps 90:12-17 Heb 4:12-13 and Mark10:17-30
Challenges of Detachment and great reversal of human values
Although we are all travelers, naturally each of us would want to acquire things, especially money, houses, clothing, shoes, cars and other material objects. Sometimes these objects are huge obstacles for us on our ordinary regular daily travels. What we thought initially to be wise turns out to be unwise!
Personally, I know how I felt a few times I have been told at the airport that I have been overweight. I have also witnessed several other passengers who have been pulled by the side and asked to rearrange or cut down their overweight luggage. It slows one down besides the inconveniences that come with it. Excess luggage is unwise!
These material values can also be an obstacle in our relations with God or in our effort to journey to God. This is true in the Gospel narrative of today, Jesus’ encounter with the rich young man which is also recorded in Matthew and Luke. In fact Luke 18:18-30 identifies him not only as a rich young man, but and an official, which means some one with power and other political connections.
These types of people are goal getters. Like in the particular case of this rich young man, he is used to running, competing, getting what he wants. This time he comes to Jesus, calling Jesus, Good, and asking for what he must do to inherit the kingdom of God. Who knows if he was flattering Jesus! For him the kingdom of God is for sales!
But there is also a positive aspect of this rich young man. He comes kneeling before Jesus in spite of position, money and power. I hope he was sincere! However, Jesus, the Word of God knew his intention. He reminds him of the Torah which he claimed to have perfectly kept. He has not killed anybody, he has not committed any adultery, he has not stolen someone’s property, and he has never bore false witness. In fact, from his youth he claimed within the limits of his wisdom that he has never defrauded anybody nor dishonored his parents.
But God, eternal Wisdom sees differently in reversed manner. His weaknesses were wealth, attachment to materials goods, and lack of prudence and responsibility for others, especially the less privileged. The rich young man would soon realized this when Jesus said to him, “go sell all that you have give to the poor and you will have treasure in the kingdom of heaven, then come follow.”
Hearing this, we are told the rich young man walked away the opposite direction, unwisely and sorrowfully. To follow Jesus does not require excess luggage of greediness, selfishness, domineering attitude, lack of contentment, arrogance, power as in the case of this rich young man. But it requires Christ- like measure of detachment, love, charity, alms-giving, humility, and responsible use of goods, promotion of common good, and option for the poor.