Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 14, 2018 – Year B
Readings: Wis 7:7-11 / Ps 90 / Heb 4:12-13 / Mk 10:17-30
by Rev. Salvador Añonuevo, Pastor
Last Friday I had the privilege of celebrating a Mass of Christian Burial for a friend who shared with me his wisdom during the last few years of his life here on earth. Many of you know him, or know of him, and some of you were even here for his funeral last Friday. His name is Bobby Poole, and he regularly attended the 8:00 Mass here at Holy Name of Mary with his wife, Ann, and his daughter, Kelly.
Bobby and I had coffee and bagels together between Masses, and I learned some lessons from him during those times. Though he never had any academic degrees, he told me, he made full use of his God-given gift of wisdom and the talents that he had. For more than forty years, he was a sales manager at an automobile dealership, and knew every aspect of the retail automobile business.
Three years ago, when the car that was given to me by the diocese was only a year old, he asked me, “Have you heard anything more from the salesman who sold you the car?”
I responded, “No, I haven’t heard anything.”
And then after three years, again, “Have you heard anything?”
He said, “That’s not the way to sell. They should follow up.” He knew how to sell. He knew how to connect with people.
But even more importantly, he knew his faith, and he hung onto it until he was born into life eternal. Last Sunday, just a few hours before he gave his last breath, he asked his daughter, Kelly, and his sister-in-law, Lily, to pray the Rosary.
As we all know, when we pray the Rosary, we pray the Hail Mary fifty-three times. In the second part of the Hail Mary, we say, Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.
He knew that. He knew that he needed the Blessed Mother at the hour of his death, and just a few hours after that, he was born into eternal life. To realize the importance of the Lord God and the Blessed Mother before he entered the passage which we call “death,” that’s wisdom.
In today’s first reading, which was taken from the Book of Wisdom, King Solomon said, “I prayed, and prudence was given me. I pleaded and the spirit of wisdom came to me.”
Wisdom is one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit that we all receive in the Sacrament of Baptism, and it is strengthened through the Sacrament of Confirmation. So why is it that many baptized Christians seem not to have it? They continue to make all the wrong decisions throughout their lives. It’s like having a car and not using it, or having a freezer in your home but having spoiled food because you didn’t put it in the freezer.
We all need to nourish our God-given gifts through constant prayer, reading, listening to God’s living word, and being in the company of the right people – in the company of people who love God, who have faith, and who give us encouragement to nourish our relationship with our living God, and to use all our God-given talents and abilities.
The other day, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) criticized the residents of the Florida Panhandle because many people failed to evacuate in advance of Hurricane Michael. Authorities had repeatedly warned residents to leave the area ahead of the dangerous storm, and had placed thirteen counties under a mandatory evacuation order.
The FEMA Administrator lamented that people in at-risk areas have ignored lessons from previous disasters. And he warned people to remember the destruction Michael brought with it as the consequence of unpreparedness. “What I’m afraid of is hurricane amnesia,” he said. “Ten years go by, and we forget what happened in Mexico Beach.”
I can relate to this because I grew up on an island regularly battered by typhoons (which is what we call hurricanes in the Pacific), and houses are damaged and people are killed. The residents are warned, “Please leave the area!” But they do not leave their homes, and their homes are destroyed. The following month they’re told again to leave the area. And again, no, they do not leave. And again, houses are damaged and relatives are killed.
People ask, “Why on earth don’t they ever learn?” Well, that’s the only way they know how to live. It is beyond comprehension but it happens because, human as we are, we are weak. And yes, we forget.
But the good news is that we have a God who is strong and the source of all wisdom. We are not able to handle all our problems and difficulties, and we will not be able to make all the right decisions in this world all the time. But we know and we believe that, with God who is always with us, we will be able to see what is right and what is wrong, and to make the right decision in every situation.
In the gospel that we have just heard, the disciples said among themselves, “Then who can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God.” Because nothing is impossible for God.