Monday of Week 8

04 March: Monday of Week 8

*The Lord can call us beyond where we are, to grow in our relationship with him, to be more generous in our response to his presence.

1st Reading: Sirach 17:24-29

Repent from sin while you still can. The dead cannot praise God

Turn to the Lord, plead before his face and lessen your offence.
To those who repent God permits return,
and he encourages those who were losing hope.
Return to the Lord and leave sin behind,
plead before his face and lessen your offence.
Come back to the Most High and turn away from iniquity,
and hold in abhorrence all that is foul.
Who will praise the Most High in Sheol,
if the living do not do so by giving glory to him?
To the dead, as to those who do not exist, praise is unknown,
only those with life and health can praise the Lord.
How great is the mercy of the Lord,
his pardon on all those who turn towards him!

Responsorial: Psalm 31:1-2, 5-7

Response: Let the just exult and rejoice in the Lord.

Happy the person whose offence is forgiven,
whose sin is remitted.
O happy the one to whom the Lord imputes no guilt,
in whose spirit is no guile. (R./)
But now I have acknowledged my sins;
my guilt I did not hide.
I said: ‘I will confess my offence to the Lord.’
And you, Lord, have forgiven the guilt of my sin. (R./)
So let every good person pray to you
in the time of need.
The floods of water may reach high
but him they shall not reach. (R./)
You are my hiding place, O Lord;
you save me from distress.
You surround me with cries of deliverance. (R./)

Gospel: Mark 10:17-27

Jesus invites the rich young man to give away his money and be a disciple

As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honour your father and mother.’” He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God.” And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”


Paradox: Gaining by Losing

Tradition says that Mark was Saint Peter’s disciple and helper in Rome. The paradox of losing something in order to gain something else appears both in Peter’s writing and in Mark’s, and is a hallmark of Markan (and of Petrine) theology. This paradox has practical applications outside the religious sphere too. The gambler knows that she or he stands to lose the wagered amount, but risks it just the same, in hope of a big win, whether at the card-table, the racetrack or the stock-market. The farmer knows what must first be spent on seed, fodder and fertilizer, make a profit. And doctors often urge their patients to lose weight, to improve their health.
This austere paradox is echoed in today’s Gospel, where Jesus expresses the no pain, no gain philosophy. “It is easier for a camel to pass through a needle’s eye than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” The rich young man was ready to be a disciple in every other way: the learning, the travelling, the companionship, but not the renunciation of ownership. The goods of this life can hold us captive unless they are enjoyed in a spirit of service and of sharing with our neighbour. This calls to mind another haunting statement of Jesus: “Whoever loses his life will save it” (Mark 8:35).
Whilst the First Letter of Peter is among the most life-affirming documents in the New Testament, it also affirms the world-renouncing principle. Peter sees the glory of the Risen Jesus transforming us from within, we who have been reborn by baptism into an imperishable inheritance. It looks as if this epistle took shape as a baptismal homily, possibly in Rome, at a time when joining the outlawed early church carried a real risk of martyrdom. This risk to one’s life and freedom is background to what Peter says about the life-enhancement of baptism. Through it we begin a new life, the glorious life of Jesus, a source of extraordinary joy and strength now, a pledge of what is “to be revealed in the last days.”

An answer harder than the question

It is often easier to ask a question than to come to terms with the answer. That is the case with the rich man who came to Jesus and asked, ‘What must I do to inherit eternal life?’ When invited to go beyond keeping the Ten Commandments, and to sell all he owned and follow Jesus along the way, it turned him right off. We are told that he walked away sad. Not everybody was asked to sell everything in order to join with Jesus, but it was asked of this particular young man. This was his particular calling, and he turned it down. Like him, we can find ourselves faced with a call to do something extra, outside our comfort zone. The temptation is to walk away from the challenge, even though to say ‘yes’ to it could open up a fuller life for us.
The Lord can call us beyond where we are, to grow in our relationship with him, to be more generous in our responses. We may not be able to answer that call at first, but there is an inward impulse of grace to be tapped. Jesus says that ‘everything is possible for God.’ When Mary was called to become the mother of Jesus and she hesitated, that was the message she heard. The angel declared to her ‘Nothing will be impossible with God.’ It is the message we too will hear whenever we seek to answer the Lord’s call to us.


Saint Casimir of Poland

Casimir (1458-1484), was prince of Poland in Krakow. He opted for a prayerful life of simplicity and sought to promote unity and peace in Europe. He is patron saint of Poland.

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