The value of being rich? That's kind of redundant sounding, isn't it? Of course, it's obvious that we normally equate the meaning of being rich with having many valuables. But what does being rich really mean? Rich in what....material possessions, cash, stocks, real estate?
I'm actually going to be discussing today the meaning of being rich in other, non-material types of ways, such as how we should acknowledge we are rich in the blessings of family, friends and health. I'm talking about how there is value in the intangible things. There is also value in having personality traits which show we have humility and unselfishness. We spend most of our lives striving to obtain personal wealth, but maybe we should spend time seeking more personal wisdom. That can put things in perspective sometimes. It's good to reevaluate our priorities. This is what the Sunday's scripture readings focused on today. What does the value of being rich in God's eyes really mean? Beyond what God thinks of us....how do we see ourselves? You know, they say your eyes are the window to your soul.
In this first reading, wisdom is referred to in a spiritually feminine way. So when you see the words "she" or "her", it is referring to wisdom and how valuable that can be.
I prayed, and prudence was given me; 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, nor did I liken any priceless gem to her; because all gold, in view of her, is a little sand, and before her, silver is to be accounted mire (wet, swampy ground).
Beyond health and beauty I loved her, and I chose to have her rather than the light, because the splendor of her never yields to sleep. Yet all good things together came to me in her company, and countless riches at her hands.
The Bible seems to like giving intangible traits a human quality, like how it did with wisdom in the above reading. In the next reading, God's Word is explained as something we should remain steadfastly faithful to and diligent in testifying to the fact that the Word of God is at work in our lives, whether some might want to acknowledge it or not.
Brothers and sisters:
Indeed the Word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. No creature is concealed from Him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must render an account.
The final reading is a tough one for many of us to digest....or should I say, Jesus' words cut like a knife, as the above reading implies.
As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before Him, and asked Him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"Jesus answered him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother."
He replied and said to Him, "Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth."
Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, "You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow Me."At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, "How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!"
The disciples were amazed at His words. So Jesus again said to them in reply, "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."They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves, "Then who can be saved?"
Jesus looked at them and said, "For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God."Peter began to say to Him, "We have given up everything and followed You."
Jesus said, "Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come. But many who are first (now) will be last, and the last will be first."
Jesus affirms that following the commandments AND serving others in need, go hand in hand. It is also a fact that many testify that they receive more pleasure from giving, than from receiving. That's what I believe Jesus means when He says you will 'receive a hundred times more now in this present age', if you are charitable, that is.
The word persecutions being used in this passage did throw me at first, but then I realized it can be very difficult attempting to do good sometimes. It is a sacrifice, no doubt, and you can be persecuted by doing good, as the disciples could testify to, because many were martyred. But Jesus promises the benefits will outweigh our difficulties in trying to do what's good and right in His eyes.
In a political sense, I believe our country did have good intentions of liberating a people, when our military went into Iraq. Also, the pro life people have good intentions of saving lives, yet both groups have been persecuted by some for standing up for what they believed to be a good cause; but in those other people's eyes, it wasn't a 'politically correct' protest for our modern times. But as I said before, the eyes are the window to your soul....and I care about what God thinks of me.