Wisdom 7:7-11
Psalm 90
Hebrew 4:12-13
Mark 10:17-30

In our first reading today, the Book of Wisdom tells of a man who calls on God, in much the same way the man called on Jesus in the Gospel passage. He is given Wisdom and he comes to understand what is important to God. In his new wisdom, the man realizes that following God and following God’s ways are more important than acquiring wealth, having good health, or keeping one’s youth and beauty. It takes real wisdom, wisdom granted by God, to realise that wealth and riches in this world are nothing compared to the Love of God and an eternity spent with Him in his kingdom. The reading tells us we can find wisdom like this through prayer.
“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.”

In fact our psalm today is a prayer for wisdom, a crying out for God’s love and grace. With God's wisdom, love and grace we will be able to hear Christ calling us to follow Him. Christ is constantly asking us to follow him. Constantly offering us a new opportunity to say yes. Not only to do no wrong, but to actively do good, to be part of his Church, to be part of his mission.

But all these seem so anti-Nigerian to me. Because, everywhere I look; in magazines, on TV, in the other media, all that seems important to people today is up-to-date fashion, cosmetic surgery and steps to keeping one’s youth and remaining beautiful, playing the stock market to make more money, deifying some Kardashian or celebrities. That is what is important to the culture today. So anti-Gospel! So difficult to reconcile with Jesus’ words!

Paul says that in the end we all have to render an account of how we lived, what our priorities were, and how we acted. Even if we have justified all these actions, in the end God can “judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. No creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare.” And how hard it will be for those who have put their love into fleeting things, inappropriate things, material things.

Below are practical ways of living out the challenge of today’s liturgy:

1. Accept the primacy of God and his Kingdom: The repeated message of Jesus is very clear – seek first the kingdom of God (Lk 12:31)! What is it that occupies the core of our hearts? Is it our wealth and possessions? Is it our fame and achievements? Is it our human securities? Jesus simply challenges these ephemerals, and invites us to give God the prime place. Why?  Because, money can buy us a cosy bed but not sound sleep. Money can buy us a variety of food, but not the peaceful appetite to enjoy our meal. Money can buy us a house, but not a home of loving people. Money can buy us books, but not the gift of wisdom.

2. Use things and love people: We live in a use-and-throw society. We open up cans and we throw them. We pull out facial tissues and we use and throw. And… we use people and we throw them.  We go steady with a girl-friend or a boy-friend for a few months, we use them and we dump them! Instead of using things we love them: ‘I love my car; I love my dog; I love my clothes!’ On the other hand, we tend to use people: someone is important to me as long as they are useful to me: we abort unwanted pregnancies, we have no time for our elderly parents. The Word of God invites us to prioritise. Yes, to use things and love people.

3. Be free not to be possessed by your possessions: If our identity as human persons is locked into our possessions, then when we lose our possessions what will become of our identity. On the other hand, our identity comes from the fact that we are created in the image of God – that the Kingdom of God is within us. Mere losing how possession cannot make us lose our identity. The unnamed man in the Gospel of today was not able to respond to his heart’s deepest desire, because of his shallow desire for his possessions. And he remains unnamed, without an identity! On the other hand, the disciples who ‘left everything and followed Jesus,’ – we know their names today. Their identity comes from their relationship with Jesus. Indeed they were given a hundredfold!

So then, let us pray in this Eucharist that we accept of the primacy of God and his kingdom in our lives, so that we only use things, but love people.  And in this way, we will be free not to be possessed by our possessions.

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