“Indeed the word of God is living and effective” (Heb 4:12). We begin the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time with an awakening. The author of the Book of Wisdom, through prayer and pleading, receives prudence and wisdom, resulting in a preference for these rather than earthly riches. “Prudence guides the other virtues by setting rule and measure. It is prudence that immediately guides the judgment of conscience” (The Catechism of the Catholic Church #1806). This is the first of the cardinal virtues, that which instills shrewdness so we can see or anticipate difficulties and thus be enabled to choose good as opposed to evil. Wisdom follows predominately as “a spiritual gift which enables a person to know the purpose and plan of God” (CCC #120). Thus prudence sets our compass as wisdom aligns us to do God’s will. Prayer fortifies both.

With this in mind we turn to the Gospel, where a man runs up to Jesus as he is leaving town and asks, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus’ response seems obvious, as he recalls the Ten Commandments, to which the man responds, “I obey those!” He knows he is doing what God has commanded.

Life_Giving Faith.pdf

Yet, Jesus calls this man (and us) into the deep mystery of the life and effectiveness of his word. “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.” First, do we ask the same question of our Lord? Are we ready for his response? Are we willing to abandon self, serve others and follow Jesus? What riches (material and spiritual) are we holding on to that will better serve others who are without? Are we aware of the poverty around us, both material and physical? Are we investing “goods” for the good of others, and following Jesus? Do we walk away from the demands of discipleship?

The apostles expand the question to “who can be saved.” Through Jesus, we have hope. “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.’” We alone cannot save ourselves, but for God ALL things are possible. We have a choice to make. Relying upon the virtue of prudence and the gift of wisdom, we have the ability to obey, serve and follow Jesus each day as we journey to eternity.

Servants of mercy

The 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time calls to mind the power of being a servant. As disciples of Jesus, we are called to serve others, even when it is most inconvenient. Our capacity to love expands as we respond to the call of service. The more we serve, the greater we love. The greater we love, the more we serve. Our model of service comes directly from Jesus. His three-fold mission as priest, prophet and king is a roadmap for our life. We serve with our hands, our voice and our heart.

The Letter to the Hebrews explains Jesus’ role as “high priest,” that being the one and only one who sacrificed all he had for all of us. He was tempted, tested, tortured and tormented, yet he NEVER abandoned his mission of his role in our redemption. His mercy and “timely grace” saves us from ourselves. Jesus’ entire body was for the service of others to the point to death. The same hands which served to heal were the same hands pierced on the cross. The same feet, which walked for hundreds of miles to reach the many, were the same feet pierced on the cross. He served with mercy, died with mercy and rose with mercy. How far are we willing to serve with love and sacrifice for the good of another?

Jesus’ piercing word resounds through prophets of old. Yet from Christ, those ancient words become lifesaving. Do our words serve as powerfully as our actions?

Finally, Jesus’ preaching, teachings and miracles provide a clear reality of his kingly reign. We are called to a share in this kingship as we follow the way of Jesus. We share with others the joy of the Gospel amidst the struggles in life to provide hope to the hopeless, freedom to the imprisoned, rest to the weary and consolation to the despairing. If Jesus came to serve, then we are here to serve through faith, sacraments, prudent choices and persistent prayer. Calling upon these foundations by the power of the Holy Spirit, may we serve others in as great of love and mercy as Jesus has done for us.

Dow is the director of Evangelization and Catechesis for the Diocese of Baton Rouge.