Bread In The Wilderness

Father Carl Diederichs

St. Luke/St. Lucy Churches

28th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Our Readings are: Wisdom 7: 7-11, Hebrews 4: 12-13, and Mark 10: 17-30. Our principle subject is money, possessions, and wealth. Are we for it or against it, or haven’t we considered it in light of the scriptures? I guess I can safely say that most of us don’t consider our possessions as something that comes under the Reign of God. This is funny, since Jesus spends more time talking about money and wealth than he does about most other things.

And even the Hebrew Scriptures have a lot to say about wealth and faithfulness to God. Wisdom says that we should account wealth as nothing as compared to wisdom. But if we account wisdom as more important than money, the result for us will be all good things including “uncounted wealth”. Now Jesus will put a finer point on this way of thinking when he says to the man, “sell what you own, and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure (uncounted wealth) in heaven.”

We know that the man went away “grieving for he had many possessions.” Behind his back, Jesus continued to talk about possessions and how they can prevent us from heaven. It is not just this one fellow who needs to hear Jesus tell it like it is, all of us do. “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” And if we are not about to change our attitude toward possessions, than we too ought to go away grieving.

Possessions: money, house, car, boat, second house (camp), second car, investments, and just a lot of things, all amount to us being “rich” in the relative use of that word. Not many, or any, reading this are super wealthy, the 1% who control the majority of wealth. But all of us are “wealthy” compared to the majority of the world. And no matter whether you have a lot or not so much, it is our attitude toward those “riches” that makes the difference.

There are some of us who take the vow of poverty and consequently own nothing. There are others of us who do not take the vow, but live a simple life without ostentation or flash. And then there are many of us who have bought into the heresy of the “money god.” We worship it, hoard it, keep trying to make more of it, spend it on ourselves and our toys, without regard to the mandate of Jesus to care and share. We do not realize that all is gift and the fact that we may have a lot of possessions is not a sign of our “worthiness.”

Jesus knew that possessions could be the huge roadblock to being faithful. But having possessions and realizing their place can compel us to become generous benefactors and truly compassionate to those who, for no fault of their own, are scraping the bottom of the barrel just to survive.

We need to ask ourselves, how much is enough? And how much of what I have stashed away really belongs to the poor? If all we have is from God and we hoard the gift, we have turned it into a pile of manure. It may buy us yet another car, but it is blood money.

And our government also needs a reality check when it comes to the poor and powerless. How much of what we give in taxes goes to the needy by way of health care, food, lodging, education and other ways to lift people out of poverty? In fact, we continue to wage a war against the poor and withdraw even the little they are now receiving under the lie that what we give will weaken their spirit to want to work.

“The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edge sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” And each one of us is “laid bare to the eyes of the one whom we must render an account.”

So, our possessions must come under the rule of God and they must remain at the disposal of God’s children, especially the poor and the powerless.  Amen.