Sunday, October 4, 2015

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time - October 11, 2015

First Reading Commentary
What is unveiled in this Reading is the testimony of a soul who understands the joys and rewards of total submission to God.  What a beautiful offering this would be for any of us but because of our blemished nature, it is likely that most of us would experience only a partial dose of the heavenly wisdom that is described here.  We have to make room for these precious gems in our soul but can't seem to get rid of our own version of wisdom -- the part in us that must call our own shots, the human will that conforms to the ways of the world perhaps with reservations but fears mockery or a loss of stature in society by not cooperating with it.  This is most visible in our times in the political arena.  There are candidates who understand and personally believe in the heavenly pro-life command, but for the sake of votes and/or staying in office will take a pro-choice stance. 
The other obstacle to overcome in the spiritual life is that God is not logical by human standards.  Our faith provides us with brainteasers such as the power we possess by fully surrendering to God; or being a slave for Christ is where true freedom is found; and the greatest among us will be a servant.  While these three examples may be at the pinnacle of heavenly truths, they do, however, defy human logic. 
Growing in humility will certainly help to weaken that which impedes the pilgrim's path to celestial treasures; but becoming more humble could very well cause pride to rear its ugly head.  Contemplating the never-ending interior battles of being human creates a clearer picture as to the seriousness of the epidemic of man's fall from grace.  Most of us will not overcome this plague in this lifetime which is why it is a great mercy of God to provide purgatory. 
Surely the goal of any prayerful soul is the transforming union.  It is the most elevated condition attainable in this life.  It is a ceaseless sense of the Presence of God, a soul participating in the divine life; that is to say, an ability to perceive a participation in God's very Nature; and usually includes an ongoing intuitive vision of divine characteristics. 
Saint Teresa of Avila, quite familiar with this level of spirituality, called this a "spiritual betrothal."  Other examples of such extraordinary spiritual greatness would be Saints Catherine of Siena, John of the Cross, Pio of Pietrelcina, Philip Neri, and Joseph of Cupertino.  Most of us will not achieve such loftiness in this lifetime but in the quest for heavenly wisdom, perhaps it would be most beneficial to approach the "Seat of Wisdom."  Who better to help us form that one of a kind friendship with Christ than His Mother?  Who better to help us break through the blockade of fears of challenging political correctness and shunning the wisdom of this world than she who pushed all those fears aside at the Annunciation and trusted completely in God?
Second Reading Commentary
Saint John records in his Gospel that after Christ's death on the Cross one of the soldiers pierced His Side causing Blood and Water to flow (cf. John 19:34).  Throughout the pages of Sacred Scripture the sword is used as a destructive tool.  But the often damaging and harmful tools known as human beings owe a debt of gratitude to the sword because from the sword we learn from that passage in John's Gospel that even injurious instruments are mercifully permitted to enter into the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. 
In order to experience the peace of the sanctuary that is our Savior's Heart, certainly one of the things on the "to do" list is to heed the instruction of Saint James: "Be doers of the word and not hearers only" (James 1:22).  We are hearers at Mass, bible studies, public and private prayer; but when we are dismissed at Mass and sent out into the world with the words: "Go in peace to love and serve the Lord," how can we be an effective Mystical Body without being doers of the word?  Jesus, the Word of God, Who is sharper than any two-edged sword, and Who penetrates our soul with His love, fully expects His love to flow from us.
Gospel Commentary
While Christ's physical journey on earth may be over, He does, nonetheless, accompany us on our journey by His Holy Spirit.  In our modern day perhaps the most admirable way to approach Jesus and kneel down before Him is to go to Eucharistic Adoration; or if the Blessed Sacrament is not exposed, then simply kneeling down before the Tabernacle. 
It's important that we relate to Scripture from the perspective of the here and now and not as it occurred thousands of years ago.  Having some knowledge of the cultural practices of the time it was written may help to make Scripture more understandable but everything about us: married or single, priest, religious or layperson, parent or not, political views, how we earn a living, religion, modern day influences -- these are all part of who we are.  God, for reasons only He knows, has placed us in this particular time in history. 
It might be a bit shocking to read that Jesus claims not to be good.  He is, of course, speaking from His Human Nature, in which He fully embraced humanity and everything that goes with it, and took it upon Himself; but that is only a small part of where our Savior is going with this.  To Christians, "No one is good but God alone" may sound like Jesus is preaching to the choir.  We are, however, defective goods, a fallen people, and are prone to patting ourselves on the back for a job well done.  Not that there is anything grievously wrong with that but the truth is that good is not done by us but through us.  Thus what Jesus is likely doing is reminding us to keep our eyes fixed on the Supreme Good. 
The answer to how one inherits eternal life seems to present something of a tangled mess.  Trying to unravel this with literalism will create a bigger mess.  First, giving up all possessions is not necessarily what Jesus is saying to us.  The concern is with that which takes priority over God.  What is that special something I can't give up under any circumstances?  Am I really valuing something more than God?  The answer may require some deep soul searching because it's not likely that any practicing Christian would ever purposely place anything above God.  This is what's at the heart of Christ's answer to the man in this Gospel. 
Secondly, knowing that all gifts come from God, it could be interpreted from the man's long face that he made a practice of hoarding those gifts.  He passed the test of following the Commandments listed which included: You shall not steal.  But it's quite possible he also made it a practice to never give.  God freely gives and entrusts His gifts to us, whatever they may be; and there is no greater gift than eternal life.  God, in turn, looks for us to share our gifts with the members of His Body. 
Making donations to one's favorite charities is certainly commendable but this is more about digging deeper and discovering one's spiritual gifts, that is, one's talents.  Who we share these gifts with is up to the Holy Spirit.  It is all those He places in our lives (parents, children, family, friends, parish community, etc.).  The understanding of Who the original Source of such awe-inspiring gifts is, greatly aids in keeping one's gazed fixed on God and therefore one's soul in unceasing prayer. 
Life is an ebb and flow of contacts, acquaintances, relationships and friendships.  We need each other.  The Body of Christ would not be necessary if Jesus had intended His followers to be selfish and unsociable.  We are, after all, servants of Christ by being servants of each other.  When all is said and done, however, it is Christ that is the Answer of all answers as to how one inherits eternal life.