Dcn. Jim Matthias’ reflection for Pentecost Sunday, October 10, 2021:
The first reading refers to the gift of wisdom – something of great value and worthy of our desire. King Solomon desires wisdom over things that humans naturally value and consider essential for happiness. He does not seek material wealth but is focused on something more valuable. It is only with wisdom that he can realize the blessings he has received.
Now substitute Jesus Christ for wisdom in the first reading and you may get that “Aha” moment of understanding what King Solomon is seeking. Jesus should be the ultimate desire of our hearts. He is the source of all our blessings and we should seek Him above all our earthly possessions. We are told to desire Him and value our relationship with Him above all things.
Sadly, many chase after happiness in this world by pursuing the riches of this world. They fail to find satisfaction in the things they possess and quickly go in search of the next best thing. Their happiness is temporary and their pursuit is unending.
The man in the Gospel wants to know how he can inherit eternal life. The word inherit correctly implies that the kingdom of God cannot be earned – it can only be given. It can only be obtained when one gives themself away in imitation of Jesus Christ. The man has followed all the commandments but has failed to serve the poor. It turns out that the commandments are the prerequisite and not the fulfillment. Faith without action is shallow and empty.
We should follow the commandments out of our love for God the Father and that love should lead us to imitate Jesus the Son through our actions. The man in the story goes away sad because he doesn’t understand. True discipleship of Jesus asks us to give of ourselves without counting the cost.
It’s also no coincidence that Jesus says “give to the poor” and “follow me” in the same breath. He is calling us to imitate him in a way that is radically different than what the world offers – reversing what our world offers in exchange for an eternity in the kingdom of God. We should avoid filling ourselves up on the material things that leave us shallow, empty, and seeking more. Instead, we should empty ourselves for the good of others in the manner that Jesus did for us.
Like King Solomon, we need to desire the riches that only Jesus can offer. He offers us the kingdom and we can only inherit it when we imitate him and give of ourselves to those in need.