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Freedom to give and take

BY SR HILDEGARD RYAN OSB

LECTIO DIVINA:  Holy Reading

Sunday, October 14th,  2012 is the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B.

Lectio:  Read the Gospel from Mark 10:17-30.

Meditatio:  Some background to the text, so that we understand its meaning.  Mark 10:17-31 is Jesus’ teaching about riches.  There are three units.

The story of the rich man  (17-22)

Jesus’ instruction to his disciples (23-27)

His teaching about rewards for giving up riches.  (28-31).

Verse 21 is a significant verse:  Jesus looked at the man and loved him because of his genuine efforts and success at observing the commandments.  This love for the man issues in the call to discipleship.  Jesus’ challenge to the man is better taken as related to this particular case and not as a general principle of Christian life, or a superior religious state.  One is not superior or inferior because of riches.  A Christian can have riches.  It is about how one uses them.  So, this case of the man with the riches is a particular case.  

In Judaism it was a sign of divine favour if one had riches, and it carried with it an obligation to give alms to the poor.  What was so hard in this man’s case was the invitation to forego even the privilege of giving alms for the sake of sharing in Jesus’ life-style of dependence on God while proclaiming the coming of his kingdom.  Verse 25 presents the grotesque image of the camel and the eye of the needle.  It shouldn’t be simplified to an imaginary “gate” through the city wall, or any other explanation.  It needs to be grotesque to drive home the point.  The point is that it is practically impossible for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven.  (NJBC – Gospel of Mark)  So, we need to think about what exactly constitutes riches, and what is our attitude to riches.

Spend quiet time with this  text. Go to a remote corner of the garden. A seat by the sea. Visit a quiet corner of a Church which is open for prayer.

Hear the words:  BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD.  Allow the Holy Spirit to play on the fibres of your heart like a harpist in order to bring forth the most beautiful melody of your response to God.

I share my response in Evangelizatio No. 3.

Evangelizatio is my LIVED RESPONSE to the sacred scriptures given to me each week by the Church for my formation as a Christian.  If I don’t respond, they are merely texts on a page.  When I do respond, they are my life.

I am responding to the words:  “Go and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”  

This is about the freedom I need to follow Jesus.  And while I don’t have things I own, I certainly do have things of which I am possessive:  my “little” routine, my “space”, my privacy, and sometimes even the talents God has given me.  I believe that this Gospel is calling me to give and give and give of time and space and talents, and bring love and joy to others.  

I believe this Gospel is calling me to focus on heaven, where my real treasure is.  And I believe this Gospel is calling me to encourage younger members of my community to give of their time and talents to older members, those whom we might class as “poor”. 

I am inspired by the fact that two Oblates (Lay members) of our community are Foster Parents.  They continually sell all in order to give to a baby who can’t be cared for by its mother.   In this, they follow Christ and imitate His sacrificial love.  They take it to the limit, because when the mother is able to take the child, they give it back.  This is an awesome thing.  Mostly, we will be asked to do the giving up of little things day by day:  our time, our space, a helping hand here and there, losing our selfish selves in order to follow Christ, and thus, with Christ, to go on proclaiming a Kingdom of Love.  God is Love. 

(Lectio Divina is Holy Reading, that is, reading of the Sacred Scriptures.  It is a way of life, not a method of prayer.  It is about reading (and listening), reflecting, praying in tune with the Holy Spirit within me, resting in God, responding in the way I live, and continually pondering on the Scriptures).  

— Sr Hildegard Ryan OSB, Jamberoo Abbey

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