At the time when the Synod on the youth is going on in Rome, I find it providential that the readings for this Sunday reflect the passion and the dynamism typical of young people. However, such youthful fire needs to be well channelled otherwise there’s a risk of getting a scald instead of warmth. That calls for humility to ask for wisdom. Let’s see, what help the word of God for this Sunday brings us?
Bible readings Wisdom 7: 7–11 Psalm 90: 12–17 Hebrews 4: 12–13 Mark 10: 17–30
Gossip about the youth and the rich
Let’s see some of the hearsays you are likely to hear about young people and the rich.
The youth of today….!
The young people are growing in the world quite different from the one their parents grew in. The means of communication, for instance, has brought drastic changes not only in terms of facility but also the mentality. Yet, some adults would love to see the youth of today act like during the so called good old days – I cry, utopia! We can’t rewind the clock, and so, the service we can render to the youth is to accompany them right in their own world. Incapable of digesting such changes some people will resort to sweeping, gratuitous judgement labelling the youth as an embodiment of moral erosion. But, are young people really bereft of values?
Things of the world!
At times material goods are contemptuously spoken of as simply things of the world, as if to say, not worthy for a Christian. The one who’s speaking like that, not rare, would probably reading from his latest tablet, in an ultra-furnished conference room, and after such moral lesson about how base material things are, our speaker may ride a car whose dashboard is decked with all sorts of buttons for easy and comfy drive. Then, you just wonder if the material goods are as bad as the bad name we give them! The bias doesn’t end just at material goods, but spills also onto those who possess them. You have the impression that being rich is equivalent to being sinner and godless -wherever that came from! Luckily, this Sunday’s gospel gives us a more positive image.
Young and rich, yet, not that bad!
The man who comes to Jesus, rich and young, if we can borrow from the gospel of Matthew (Mt 19:16-122), yet even such combination, he’s a person of commendable character. He observes the law which can be summed up as respect for God and neighbour. Besides, he’s not a godless fellow who buries his head into the wealth he’s accumulated -he has also higher yearnings. He kneels before Jesus with a request: “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Indeed, young rich and yet, not that bad!
What gives me pleasure is not just this beautiful biblical story; I’m edified also to note that, even today, there are enterprising young people, successful in career or in business -thereby assuring themselves a comfortable life; yet, in the evening they kneel to say thank you, Lord, for the day, and early in the morning, similarly, they don’t forget to entrust their activities to the wisdom of God. That makes me protest against any gratuitous judgement slapped collectively on the youth and the wealthy.
But, without wisdom…
No matter how best the intentions and how strong the convictions young people may have, nevertheless, it’s necessary to kneel and repeat the request of the young man in the gospel: “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Why? Simply because we can’t build our lives on our own engineering or material power. We need someone to help us see things, even our own life, in a different light. Indeed, it’s only after approaching Jesus that this successful, self-confidant young man learns that he lacks something. Would he have ever thought of it by himself? Apparently, all he knows, and thus proudly affirm, is that he’s been observing the law since his youth. It’s as if to say, I have all it takes to enter eternal life.
Without the humility of asking for advice we risk basking in illusions, but when we submit our project, in prayer, before the wisdom of Jesus we begin to see clearly. And facing our illusions may be painful, we see it in the rich man.
He goes away sad
Before Jesus, not only does the rich man learn that something is missing, but he also comes to realise how slavishly attached he is to his possessions. He goes away, downcast. And what becomes of his desire for eternal life! That’s why Jesus remarks: “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
Let’s take the liberty to understand the eye of a needle as side gate -it’s narrow. You might need to negotiate your passage, especially you would perhaps need to shed part of your load. That may not be easy. Think about your career, your family life or any other relationships you may have; what is it that is blocking you from advancing? What is it that is tempering your fire of realising your heart’s desire?
Convictions and passion are not enough
It’s important to have dreams and the passion to realise them, but that’s not enough; at least as we see it in the gospel. We need to develop friendship with wisdom, as expressed in the first reading; who will help us set priorities and will give us the courage to take bold decisions necessary to responding to the most profound yearnings of our heart.
And so, let our prayer be:
Lord, help me to be aware of that one thing that I’m lacking, that which is rendering it difficult for me to realise the yearnings of my heart. I ask for the courage to get rid of whatever extra baggage that is preventing me from following you. Give me the wisdom that comes from you!
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