Wow. I don’t know about anybody else, but today’s first reading from the Book of Wisdom and the Gospel according to Mark have hit a nerve with me!
The Book of Wisdom attempts to teach us that the riches of this life including wealth, fame, the regard of others and even good health and beauty cannot begin to amount to the value of prudence and wisdom. Nothing in life should be more important than knowing and doing the will of God.
The rich young man in the Gospel failed to learn the lesson taught by the Book of Wisdom. While he knew and followed the commandments, he was utterly unable to divest himself of his worldly treasure even when a better reward was to come upon doing so. It was sad, for me, to read how his face fell when Jesus instructed him to sell all his worldly possessions and give to the poor. He was so attached to his wealth and prestige. As an outsider looking in on this drama it is easy to see that the better choice was to do as Jesus said and have glorious, eternal life and many, many more blessings in the current life that he would otherwise!
But in the reality of our lives this is a very difficult choice. We cling to our wealth and our belongings and our prestige with both arms wrapped tightly around them. We are afraid to give them up because we are afraid to be poor, to be hungry, to be lowly and destitute. We have not learned the lesson on the Book of Wisdom, but even if we had do we possess enough faith in God to release our worldly wealth and honor?
Once again I am reminded of how I personally feel about money and “stuff”. If my house burned to the ground with all my worldly possessions inside I would feel sadness at the loss but provided my family survived I wouldn’t be distraught. As long as I have God and family and friends I have all that I NEED. All the rest, the money and the objects we collect throughout our lives are just material things that, despite their sentimental value, can never, and should never, replace God and the people we love. When you place a higher value upon money, which can be lost in a moment, or things, which can be lost in a flash, than God you become the rich person who has a harder time entering the kingdom of God than a camel passing through the eye of a needle. Considering the relative size discrepancy of the camel and the eye of the needle I would say that passage is impossible to make.
Why do we place such a dangerously high value on our worldly wealth and prestige? Because we lack faith in the kingdom of God. Somewhere in our hearts and minds we have a doubt about that kingdom and we don’t want to lose the wealth we have for something that we have not committed to faith and surety. If the current economic crisis of our nation has taught us nothing else, it has shown us without a doubt that anyone can go from relative comfort, even wealth, to losing eveything they built in their lives very quickly. We feel that the kingdom of God is a gamble with a high risk. We are afraid to give up what we believe is real and tangible and what we know for what is not yet known. Only those who have preceded us in death can know the kingdom of God. But, do not make the mistake of thinking that your worldly possessions and your worldly fame are sureties, for they are most certainly not. This life and all things are passing; God is eternal. It is, therefore, critical that we teach our children from the beginning not to place too high a value on money, possessions and position in life, but instead teach them than all good things come with wisdom from God as we learn and do the will of God. "Yet all good things together came to me in her company, and countless riches at her hand." I think we need to consider what is meant by "riches", but I like the outcome of receiving wisdom from God!
The Psalm this week is Psalm 90: Fill Us With Your Love, O Lord
Have a blessed week! Read the Book of Wisdom in your free moments this week!