Summary: Nothing is impossible for God
As our brethren in the Eastern Churches announce before they proclaim the holy Gospel...
“Wisdom! Be attentive!”
Today is a time to be attentive...
Because my friends, today’s readings are all about Wisdom.
They are about how precious wisdom is.
They are about where we may to find it.
They are also about its cost...
The readings all point to one beautiful but disconcerting fact – that Christ is the wisdom of God!
And the question therefore posed to us this morning, is just how precious is Christ- is God’s wisdom - to us?
As the reading from the Book of Wisdom says…
I pleaded, and the spirit of wisdom came to me.
I preferred her to scepter and throne,
and deemed riches nothing in comparison with her...
Wisdom is priceless …and so, in our responsorial we prayed to God …
Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain wisdom of heart.
We plead ...we pray... “Lord! Grant us your holy wisdom.”
The first reading goes on to say if we have wisdom, everything else will be ours...but it’s a bit deceptive because what the book does not say is that with true wisdom, our values change and the “everything” we thought we had wanted, we will no longer want.
That’s because this wisdom is as the author of the letter to the Hebrews says...
“... living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword...”
It cuts you no matter how you hold it ...and it is
“...penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow,
and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.”
Wisdom gets into our guts ...into our marrow...into our soul ...and it reveals our true heart …
…then challenges us – dares us - to convert that heart and become a child of God. Simple. Authentic. Single-minded. Focused ONLY on its Heavenly Parent.
And by what means will we become a focused...single-minded...simple child? ...as Jesus says to the young man…get rid of everything that fog your brain, that will distract your thinking ...that will make judgment complex...
“Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”
Did you feel the stabbing of the two-edged sword? ...I did...
That rich young man – who is a proxy for all of us - with all his wealth and comforts and possessions– well that’s how Matthew and Mark describe him – in Luke he is described as a ”ruler” so not only wealthy but with fame and status and titles and position and self-images too - when Jesus says to him – give up all these things that will distract you from God, then care for those less fortunate, and come follow me. It shakes us up deep ...into the marrow of our bones…
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Jesus says in St Matthew. “What possesses your heart?” “What do you value the most?”
Jesus says to us today, “Do you really want true life? Do you really want a life of holiness? …a Godly life that will propel you into eternity? That’s fantastic…all you have to do is divest of everything you have – give it all away – so that you focus totally on me.” That is the penetrating Wisdom of God.
And if you don’t do this, then your chances to obtaining eternal life are almost nil…
“Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God."
That got me right here - in my gut. Did you feel the same thing? Peter and the disciples certainly felt it.
“Then who can be saved?”
I find myself equally incredulous. “Wait what was that??” “Sell everything?” “Leave all that I’ve worked for?” “Are you crazy?” “If that’s the price…then do I have any chance of being saved?”
I heard a little analogy that put this bit of wisdom in context... …imagine if a mugger came up to us and said “Your money or your life? And we said, “Please take my life…I need my money to pay my bills, to plan for retirement, to send the kids to camp and pay for groceries and medical bills….
So how seriously should we take this radical extreme standard?
There has been much effort to “explain away” what Jesus meant in this passage about the camel passing through the eye of a needle. You may have heard that the “eye of the needle” was a small portal gate in the walls of Jerusalem and that wealthy drivers had to dismount their camels, and that the camels themselves had to stoop very low to get into it…all symbolizing that we need to live with riches humbly. Unfortunately, there is no evidence of a small gate in Jerusalem’s walls… But that is actually not a bad analogy for the lesson. There is another “explanation” that the Greek word KAMILOS – which means camel - was copied incorrectly and that it should have been KAMELOS – which means rope. Well rope in those days came from camel hair and since trying to get a rope through a needle is not possible either, it doesn’t not quite ease the extremeness of the Lord’s challenge to the young man ...and to us.