9th & 10th October 2021

posted 11 Oct 2021, 05:36 by Parish Office

Homily for the Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

(9 & 10/10/21)

God is the fulfilment of the human heart. But it’s no good just knowing that as a fact: we have to do something about it.

When St Paul said that we, together, as the Church, are the body of Christ, he also said that, just as body is made up of different parts, so it is with the Church. We are not all called to serve God in the same way. But what we have to do is to listen to how God is calling us, and not just to copy others.

Today, the rich young man meets Christ. He is yearning for something. His heart is unfulfilled. He keeps the Ten Commandments, yes, but there’s something more that he needs to do. Jesus pierces him with his gaze, and sees through to the depths of his being. Your riches are ensnaring you, preventing you from following your calling. “There is one thing you lack. Go and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me” (Mark 10:21). That was what he needed to do to be completely happy and fulfilled. But sadly, at this point at least, he felt unable to respond to that call. Whether he responded later or not, we don’t know. But at this point, he failed to follow his vocation.

So the call to live a life of poverty was not something new invented at the time of St Francis of Assisi. It goes back to the time of Christ. And like two thousand years ago, not all feel able to follow it. It seems a bit too much. I may have told you before of the priest who, when he began his seminary training, looked around the small room he had been given. He had been previously in a well-paid legal job, and now he had given it all up and was living in a rather small room. He thought to himself: “What have I done?” But Christ was not calling him to serve Him as a lawyer. Christ was calling him to serve as a priest. And that is what he is still doing today.

Riches can be a snare that keeps some people away from following their vocation, or even from following the Lord altogether. In the parable of the sower, we hear of the seed that is sown among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it. This represents those who hear the word, but the worries of this world and the lure of riches choke the word, and so they produce nothing (see Matthew 13:7. 22). Maybe the rich young man fell into the

same category. Either way, the religious life, with its three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, is a fruitful way of life for those who are called to it. Secular priests, like myself, do not take a vow of poverty. The joke is that religious, including religious priests, so that includes religious orders such as the Franciscans, the Jesuits, the Dominicans and so on, take vows of poverty, but it’s the secular priests who live it. It’s sometimes true, but there are plenty of diocesan, secular priests who also seem to live fairly well. Not all priests are called to live a life of poverty in a religious order. But diocesan priests still make promises of celibacy, respect and obedience to their bishop.

What is the point of all this? Well, the first answer comes from the Lord Himself: there is no one who has left behind family, property, married life and possessions who will not be repaid by the Lord in this life and in the life to come. God will repay and reward those who choose to follow Him (see Mark 10:28-30). And we also have an answer to the question in the first reading, which applies to everyone, not just religious. Wisdom is more important than riches: “compared with [wisdom] ..., I held riches as nothing … for compared with her, all gold is a pinch of sand, and beside her silver ranks as mud” (Wisdom 7:8-9). You can’t take it with you when you go. You came into this life poor, and you will leave this life poor. Make sure there’s something in your heavenly bank account. As today’s psalm said, “Make us know the shortness of our life that we may gain wisdom of heart” (Psalm 89:12). Or as the second reading said, “No created thing can hide from him; everything is uncovered and open to the eyes of the one to whom we must give an account of ourselves” (Hebrews 4:12).

So, yes, we each have our calling from God, and only by following it will we be truly happy. We can’t just follow others; we need to know what our own personal calling is, and follow that.

This Sunday/today we have our annual Day of Prayer for Vocations. Maybe we can spend some time in prayer before the Lord exposed on the altar for those who are discerning their vocation, as well as those who should be discerning their vocation, but are not. As the Lord Himself said: “Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:38).