May 23, 2016

May 23

May 23, 2016:  Monday, 8th week, Ordinary Time

  • 'Clock' tie bar:  Salvation to be revealed in the final time (1st reading); Lord will remember his covenant forever (psalm)
  • Gold-colored accessories:  Your faith is more precious than gold (1st reading)
  • 'Girl with heart' pin:  I'll thank the Lord with all my heart (psalm)
  • Food tie:  he's given food to those who fear him (psalm)
  • 'Eyeball' pin:  Though you haven't seen him, you love and believe in him (1st reading); Jesus looked at the rich man and loved him (gospel)
  • 'Coin' button:  how hard for the rich to enter the Kingdom (gospel)
  • '3 stick figures' tie pin:  Trinity Sunday; check out yesterday's music if you haven't.
  • Green shirt:  Ordinary Time season
  • 'Stone' tie pin, 'flowers' pin:  red herrings (though unintentional)

Christians live in joy and amazement because of the Resurrection.  Even if trials plague us, we know God regenerated us in Christ and gave us hope.  We can go towards the hope early Christians depicted as an anchor in heaven.  We can take the rope and go up to hope that brings joy.  You may be told there are many Christians without joy, but they're not Christians!  The Christian identity card is gospel joy, joy of having been chosen, saved, and regenerated by Jesus; joy of the hope that Jesus is waiting for us, joy expressed in peace in the certainty that Jesus is with us.  We grow in joy through trusting in God.  God remembers, loves, accompanies, and waits for us, and this is joy.
The rich young man couldn't open his heart to joy; shackled to belongings, he chose sadness.  You can't serve two masters:  either God or riches.  Riches aren't bad in themselves, but slavery to them  is.  When people say they're Christians but are sad, something's wrong.  We must help them find Jesus, to take away that sadness, so they may have gospel joy.  When faced with God's revelation and love, we feel joy and amazement.  Jesus was disappointed when he told the Apostles the man attached to riches couldn't follow him.  When the Apostles asked Jesus who can be saved, he answered, "Impossible for people, but not for God."
Christian joy and the ability to be saved from attachments can only come through God's power, with the Spirit's strength.  May the Lord grace us with amazement in his presence, in the presence of the treasures he's given us; and with this amazement, may he give us joy, the joy of our lives and of having our hearts at peace even when faced with difficulty.  And may he protect us from seeking happiness in things that may promise much but ultimately sadden us.  A Christian is a person of joy in the Lord; a person of wonder .
    (but it won't kneel or shrink to fit)
  • 1 Pt 1:3-9  Christ gave us a new birth to living hope through his resurrection, to salvation, an imperishable inheritance kept for you who are safeguarded through faith.  You rejoice, though you may have to suffer through trials, so your faith may be for praise, glory, and honor.  You don't see him but believe in him, love him, and rejoice.
  • Ps 111:1-2, 5-6, 9, 10c  "The Lord will remember his covenant for ever."  I thank the Lord with all my heart.  God's power and works are great:  giving food, remembering his covenant, delivering his people.
  • Mk 10:17-27  Man / Jesus:  “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” / “You know the commandments....” / “I've observed them.” / “Sell what you have, and give to the poor and you'll have treasure in heaven; then follow me.”  He left sad, for he had many possessions.  To disciples:  “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the Kingdom!  It's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, but all is possible for God.”
    • Creighton:  The man who ran up to Jesus seems to have been good; Jesus challenges him to “think outside the box.”  “The box” reassures us:  if we know the rules, we can check them off like a smug Pharisee.  Was this guy expecting an attaboy, more advanced rules, or what?  Jesus challenges him to go beyond the rules.  You don't win a game just by avoiding penalties.  We suffer from what the "Google maps syndrome":  we want an identifiable destination and highlighted route.  Can we accept Jesus' open-ended invitation, or will we too go away sad?
      Jesus and the rich man,
      Chinese depiction (1879)
    • One Bread, One Body:  "Losing everything to be saved":  We should be willing to sell or lose all we have if it's what the Lord wants from us.  We have only one goal in life: to be saved.  May we accept salvation whatever it takes:  sacrificing, trusting, suffering, simplifying, being counter-cultural—and experiencing the joy and freedom that ensue.
    • Passionist:  Today's readings challenge and encourage us to live as disciples:  Jesus invites the man who wants to know how to inherit eternal life to give what he has to the poor, then follow him; the man went away sad, for he had many possessions.  Then Jesus shocks his disciples by telling them how hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom.  Many believed that rich = favored by God, on the way to the kingdom; some still do.  But wealth or power can be an obstacle.
    In the 1st reading, the author reminds his fellow disciples of the promise they have in Christ, even in trials.  Love is the key; how else could we give up everything to follow Jesus?  God’s love for us in Christ can get us through testing, suffering, times we don't feel God's presence, so we may rejoice.  It's beyond us but not beyond God.  All things have become possible for us, but not by us.
    •  "Give, and you'll have treasure in heaven":  The rich man who wanted what money couldn't buy got a surprise answer.  Did he go away sad because he was possessive and his treasure and hope misplaced?  Treasure is connected to the heart, the place of desire, will, and focus.  The Lord is the greatest treasure we can have, so giving up anything else for him (attachment, friendship, job, lifestyle...) should give great joy and freedom.  Only God can satisfy our deepest longings.  Better the poor walking in integrity than the rich perverse in their ways. The camel was regarded as the largest animal; the needle's eye could be literal or describe the narrow gate of the city walls; you had to "lower" yourself to enter.  Wealth can make us falsely independent and lead us into selfishness.  The rich man and his sons who refused to help poor Lazarus neglected to serve God.  We lose what we keep and we gain what we give away. Generosity will be amply repaid, both in this life and in eternity....

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