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RELIGION LITURGY AND LIFE

28TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

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Here we are at the 28th Sunday in ordinary time with September a distant memory and now we are well into October the month of the Rosary. At this stage we should be settled into the routines of school and work, routines that are often abandoned during the summer months for a more relaxed way of life.

In our second reading this Sunday we hear about the word of God being alive and active God’s Word can be likened to a two-edged sword. It is living and effective. Even now the word of God gets to the heart of things and it divides the real from the unreal so that we are forced to face up to the uncomfortable truths it may be pointing out to us whatever they may be. In this Sundays Gospel Mark paints a vivid scene of a rich man meeting Jesus on the road to Jerusalem. The rich man is eager, impetuous and effusive. The prophet from Nazareth is calm and practical as he meets the seeker’s enthusiasm with the challenge of the kingdom. When the rich man throws himself at the feet of Jesus and addresses him as “Good master”, Jesus tells him that God alone is the good. When the man asks Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life, Jesus gives him the standard rabbinical answer – keep the commandments.

Jesus looks on the rich man with love; he wants this blameless enthusiast to become one of his disciples. So the challenge is made: “There is one thing you lack. Go and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” The cost of Christian discipleship is heavy for this prospective disciple: he must renounce his security and the prestige his wealth brings him; when he sells everything he owns, he must not give the money to his family or friends, but to the poor. If he does this he will have treasure in heaven. That treasure will be his new security.

Then Jesus tells the apostles to detach themselves from possessions. The rich man is a good person, but he cannot let go of the physical goods he has in order to receive the riches of following Jesus and his sought-after eternal life. Ordinary religious practice and observances are not enough. Jesus asks the extraordinary from his followers, not only giving up possessions, but their very lives, to follow him .Over the years since these words were first spoken right down to us in our own times  many many people have got up and followed Jesus and by doing this they have inspired countless others to take up the road less travelled. This will be the same as we go into the future as many more will come to accept the challenge of Jesus to follow him. We remember that the true Christian, whose principal purpose in life is to serve God, will not overburden him or herself with unnecessary pieces of luggage; instead the true Christian will travel light and be ever ready to help others also to carry their burdens.

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