Sunday Church at Home – 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B

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28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B
10th October, 2021

Sunday Church at Home

during the Coronavirus Pandemic

Making Choices in Our Lives.

The leader makes the sign of the cross, saying:

Leader: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

All reply: Amen

Leader: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

All reply: Blessed be God for ever

Leader: As the years go by, we all make crucial choices and massive changes. What is important is to see them in perspective and to make choices which lead us closer to God.

LITURGY OF THE WORD

First Reading: Wisdom 7:7-11

Introduction to the reading: When Solomon, one of Israel’s greatest kings, began his reign, God invited him to pray for anything he wanted. He prayed only for wisdom, and it was granted him. In today’s passage from the book of Wisdom, the author portrays Solomon speaking of this gift.

A reading from the Book of Wisdom.

I prayed, and understanding was given me;
I called upon God, and the spirit of wisdom came to me.
I preferred her to sceptres and thrones,
and I accounted wealth as nothing in comparison with her.
Neither did I liken to her any priceless gem,
because all gold is but a little sand in her sight,
and silver will be accounted as clay before her.
I loved her more than health and beauty,
and I chose to have her rather than light
because her radiance never ceases.
All good things came to me along with her
and in her hand’s uncounted wealth.

The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 90:12-13.14-15.16-17 (R. cf 14)

Let us now pray the Responsorial Psalm:

R/. Fill us with your merciful love, O Lord,
      and we shall exult.

Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain wisdom of heart.
Turn back, O Lord! How long?
Show pity to your servants.

At dawn, fill us with your merciful love;
we shall exult and rejoice all our days.
Give us joy for the days of our affliction,
for the years when we looked upon evil.

Let your deed be seen by your servants,
and your glorious power by their children.
Let the favour of the Lord our God be upon us;
give success to the work of our hands.
O give success to the work of our hands.

R/. Fill us with your merciful love, O Lord,
      and we shall exult.

Second Reading: Hebrews 4:12-13

Introduction to the reading: A unique feature of the Letter to the Hebrews is an extended reflection on selected Old Testament texts. This is because both Jews and Christians believe that the Scriptures are not a dead letter but are always spoken “live” to us by God. Using the image of the sword, the author describes how God’s word cuts right to the heart of our daily lives.

A reading from the Letter to the Hebrews.

The word of God is living and active,
sharper than any two-edged sword,
piercing to the division of soul and spirit,
of joints and marrow,
and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
And before him no creature is hidden,
but all are open and laid bare
to the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

The word of the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Alleluia.

Gospel: Mark 10:17-30

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Mark.

At that time:
As Jesus was setting out on his journey,
a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him,
“Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 

And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good?
No one is good but God alone.
You know the commandments:
‘Do not kill,
Do not commit adultery,
Do not steal,
Do not bear false witness,
Do not defraud,
Honour your father and mother.’” 

And he said to him,
“Teacher, all these I have observed from my youth.”
And Jesus looking upon him loved him,
and said to him,
“You lack one thing;
go, sell what you have, and give to the poor,
and you will have treasure in heaven;
and come, follow me.”
At that saying his countenance fell,
and he went away sorrowful;
for he had great possessions. 

And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples,
“How hard it will be for those who have riches
to enter the kingdom of God!”
And the disciples were amazed at his words.
But Jesus said to them again,
“Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches
to enter the kingdom of God!
It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle
than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 

And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him,
“Then who can be saved?” 

Jesus looked at them and said,
“With people, it is impossible, but not with God;
for all things are possible with God.” 

Peter began to say to him,
“Behold, we have left everything and followed you.” 

Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you,
there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters
or mother or father or children or lands,
for my sake and for the gospel,
who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time,
houses and brothers and sisters
and mothers and children and lands,
with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.

The Gospel of the Lord

Reflection on the Readings 

The leader reads the text prepared by the priest and leads the sharing.

Homily 

A star player from the Lions Rugby team went up to Jesus and asked: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replied, “Go to the local playground and help set up an after-school program for kids at risk.” The rugby star’s face fell, and he went away sad, because his focus was on getting selected for the Springboks. 

The owner of a small business asked Jesus: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said, “Go and create job opportunities for those who have lost their jobs and whose families are struggling.“ The business owner’s face fell, and he went away sad, because he was focused on building up his nest egg for retirement. 

A woman who had just buried her sister who had died of cancer asked Jesus: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” With great compassion for her, Jesus said, “Go, put aside your grief for your dear sister, and give your time to help raise money for cancer research.” The woman’s face fell, and she went away sad, because the loss of her sister was still too painful. 

 

We know how the rich young man feels in today’s Gospel. Jesus asks everything of us as the cost of being His disciple. Each one of us possesses talents and resources, skills and assets that we have been given by God for the work of making the kingdom of God a reality in the here and now. 

Today’s gospel has a poignant, very human moment. In the midst of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem with his disciples, a man runs up, kneels before him and asks, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Our heart goes out to this enthusiastic, earnest man. 

There are moments in Mark’s gospel when Jesus expresses very intense human feelings: he gets exasperated with his disciples; he rebukes an unclean spirit; he is impatient with the Pharisees; he is disappointed by the unbelief of even his own townspeople, etc. Today, the other side of Jesus’ humanity comes forward, “Jesus looking at him, loved him….” 

The man who fell on his knees before Jesus calls him “Good teacher.” This man must have impressed Jesus. Yet he gives him a strange reply. “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.” I think Jesus already saw the seeds of faith in this man, and he was trying to grow that faith. This is the logic of Jesus’ response: (1) only God is (fully) good. (2) yet you have called me good. (3) Maybe you are sensing the Godliness in me. We are not told of a response from the man, but we see Jesus going on to take him through the essentials.

The man is someone who wants more in his life and he is asking Jesus to give it to him. Since he can’t provide for himself, he has to do something. What? He is already living a good life according to the laws of the Hebrew Scriptures, but still finds himself lacking. He tells Jesus: “Teacher all of these laws I have observed from my youth.” This is the moment when “Jesus looking on him, loved him and said, ‘You are lacking one thing. Go sell what you have, give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven, then come follow me.”’

The vast majority of people who hear this gospel are not rich. But there a tendency in us to label our possessions as “blessings,” as if they are signs of God’s favour on us. Just recently, someone said to me: “I was blessed with a new car.” Then she said, “will you bless it for me?”

In response to what Jesus told him, the man probably thought if he followed Jesus’ directions and gave up his “blessings,” there would be nothing that would be a sign of God’s favour on him. He would have no thing and no one else – but Jesus – and in Jesus, he would have had what he was searching for, “eternal life.”

In the eyes of the world, the man had it all. We tend to evaluate a person’s worth by their education, financial achievement, homes and even by their solid family life. 

If we look in the Gospels, we can find examples of people of wealth among Jesus’ followers. In Luke’s gospel there were women who supported Jesus. They did not have to sell everything. Zaccheus, a rich man, gave half his possessions to the poor – not all, and then followed Jesus.

But the rich man in today’s story is asked to give up everything. 

For some people that is what it will take to follow Christ; that is what he is asks of them. While we may not be rich, we do need to ask ourselves: “is there something that we have to let go of to follow Christ more closely?”

Here is where the Book of Wisdom can be a guide for us. Today we heard an extract from King Solomon’s prayer: “I prayed and understanding was given me.” Another name for “understanding” is “wisdom.” In the scriptures wisdom is personified as a woman and is valued as a treasure beyond price. We can’t buy wisdom, just as the man’s wealth could not buy eternal life.  

There are various forms of wisdom in the scriptures. One is a wisdom for everyday practical matters. For example, people who were good carpenters, gifted artists and craftspeople were said to possess wisdom. God promised to give Solomon whatever he would ask for. His request is worded in his prayer for wisdom. He is asking for the practical kind of wisdom, praying to be a good and wise ruler. Solomon had great wealth, but he prays for a treasure – wisdom – that he cannot buy. It is wisdom which will give him true meaning and purpose to his life. 

That sounds like something we all should be praying for. 

Solomon is drawn to wisdom’s never-fading splendour. The man in the gospel is drawn to Jesus for eternal life. In the New Testament Jesus is associated with wisdom. Jesus asked the rich man to give up the things that were signs to him that he was favoured by God. Jesus really did want this man to follow him and he wanted to give this man what he was searching for – eternal life. Jesus wasn’t just offering unending life, but a deeper, more satisfying life than the man had ever known, even with all his riches. 

If the man accepted these new “riches” offered him by Jesus, he would know by his faith that he had a new life and was in God’s favour. He would also have a new kind of external “riches” as well – a new family in Christ – and the wisdom of understand the meaning and purpose of his life. Just as Jesus had promised.

From today’s Gospel reading:

As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up,

knelt down before him and asked him,

“Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?

Reflection:

The rich man in today’s story is asked to give up everything. For some people that is what it will take to follow Christ; that is what he is asks of them. 

So, we ask ourselves:

  • While we may not be rich, is there some thing or attitude that we have to let go of to follow Christ more closely? 

Prayer of the Faithful 

Leader: Let us come before God our Father, offering our hearts and our prayers for ourselves and for all those who are in need at this time.

Reader:

We pray for Pope Francis and all religious leaders as they work to bring hope to our beautiful but often traumatised world: 

may their inspiration give us courage and strength.

LORD HEAR US

We pray for the Synod that Pope Francis has opened: 

that God will guide the whole Church in listening to the Holy Spirit so that we may deepen our communion and be more faithful to the mission of evangelization and reconciliation.

LORD HEAR US

We pray for all our children receiving First Holy Communion (today)/(on Sunday): 

that they may grow in love and joy with the presence of Jesus in their hearts.

LORD HEAR US

We pray for freedom from attachments: 

that God will give us the courage to live with less and embrace our families, our community members, and the gift of each day more fully.

LORD HEAR US

We pray for children who have been neglected, are malnourished, or abandoned: 

that God will free them from danger, bring them to a safe and loving environment, and heal their wounds of body, mind, and spirit.

LORD HEAR US

We pray for all who are ill or affected by Covid-19 virus: that God will heal the sick, strengthen those facing a long recovery, and renew all who are caring for them.
LORD HEAR US

We pray for deceased members of our families and friends whose anniversaries occur about this time.

LORD HEAR US

We pray for Ruth Marneweck who died during the week. 
Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord.

And let perpetual light shine upon her.
May she rest in peace.  Amen.

Leader: Let us pray for Mercy

Lord Jesus Christ,
you have taught us to be merciful 

like the heavenly Father, 

and have told us that whoever sees you sees Him.
Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew 

from being enslaved by money; 

and assured Paradise to the repentant thief. 

You are the visible face of the invisible Father, 

of the God who manifests his power above all 

by forgiveness and mercy: 

let the Church be your visible face in the world. 

You willed that your ministers 

would also be clothed in weakness 

in order that they may feel compassion 

for those in ignorance and error: 

let everyone who approaches them 

feel sought after, loved, and forgiven by God. 

May your Church bring good news to the poor, 

proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed,  

and restore sight to the blind.  

We ask this of you, Lord Jesus, 

through the intercession of Mary, Mother of  Mercy; 

you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit 

for ever and ever. 

Amen.

Spiritual Communion

We can unite ourselves to the Eucharist through making a spiritual Communion.

By making an Act of Spiritual Communion, we express our faith in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist and ask him to unite himself with us. 

My Jesus, I believe you are really here in the Blessed Sacrament.
I love you more than anything in the world, and I hunger to receive you.
But since I cannot receive Communion at this moment, feed my soul spiritually. I unite myself to you now as I do when I receive you. Amen.

CONCLUDING RITE

Leader: Let us pray to the Father in the words Jesus our Saviour gave us: 

All say: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  Amen.

Leader: God of wisdom,
whose word probes the motives of our hearts,
with you all things are possible.

Let worldly treasure not keep us from Jesus,
who looks on us with love.
Free us to leave all things and follow him,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.

All: Amen.

Leader: May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.

All: Amen.

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