Sir 17:20-24; Ps 32:1,2,5-7; Mk 10:17-27
Another beatitude abounds for those about to enter into the desert of Lent: “Blessed are those to whom the LORD imputes not guilt, in whose spirit there is no guile.” Indeed this is the goal of any Lenten devotion, to be guileless is the blessing of the Cross and Resurrection into which we have been immersed in the mystery of our Baptism. Truly blessed are we to turn away from sin and to hate intensely what the LORD loathes—sin. Such beatitude leads us to ask of Jesus: “Good Teacher what now must I do to gain life eternal?”
The wisdom of Jesus Ben Sirach is the total surrender to the will of God. Taking on the LORD’s way of life is necessary for gaining wisdom. Until we learn to walk in his ways we are lost in the ways of those whose voice is the loudest whose power is prevailing in the media. Until we listen and learn from the Good Teacher we are bound to hear and do what everyone else thinks is best for us. As our Eastern brothers and sisters hear each liturgy: “Wisdom, be attentive!” We too must choose the lot of truth. We too must learn to hate the ways of foolishness, the ways of our own wants and desires. When we begin to stand firm in the way God sets before us then we will stand firm in prayer to the Most High God. This is the liberation we have just spent fifty days celebrating. Now, we must live what we have so fully celebrated. Now, we no longer live in the error of the ungodly. Now, we delight in the mercy of the LORD; we live the life of one who is forgiven because we have returned to Him. By the life-giving mercies of the Paschal Mystery and the full saturation of the Holy Spirit, we live and move and have our being in the Most High God!
Jesus challenges the man who seeks wisdom. He also challenges those who follow him. Both the honest searcher and the faithful disciple are summoned to the wisdom of the Cross. The Lord Jesus has revealed in his cross and resurrection that the only way to wisdom is to live a simple life. This radical simplicity seems impossible to the man who asked Jesus: “what must I do?” Although he is weighed down with many possessions, Jesus looks on him with love. Like the Most High God in the Book of Sirach, Jesus encourages those who are losing hope. The Lord Jesus admires this honest searcher. This is the kind of integrity and enthusiasm with which so many that seek refuge in modern-day cults seek meaning and purpose in life. These searching brothers and sisters look for a way to give themselves completely. They long for a way of life that make demands and challenges them to live—to live abundantly! Sometimes the church and its members settle for mediocrity; sometimes we try to domesticate the Spirit. What more does Jesus have to offer once we live by the wisdom of the commandments? Everything! If we are willing to sacrifice everything for the Kingdom of God then we will have everything in Christ. Growing wealthy and giving help to those in need is not enough to satisfy the deepest longing of the human heart. For us this is impossible, but not for God. “All things are possible for God.” We share now in the seemingly impossible self-gift of Christ in his body and blood. It is this seemingly impossible union that enables us to pass through the eye of a needle.