October 10, 2021
by Mike Cherney
Creighton University's Physics Department
click here for photo and information about the writer

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 143

Wisdom 7:7-11
Psalm 90:12-13, 14-15, 16-17
Hebrews 4:12-13
Mark 10:17-30 or 10:17-27

Praying Ordinary Time

In the first reading Solomon praises wisdom as more valuable than power or riches. The Psalm considers the preciousness of our time on this earth and is a call to God for His support. The passage from the Letter to the Hebrews makes the focus God’s Word. In the Gospel, Jesus asks that we are more than good; Jesus asks that we provide support for each other. The passage begins with the story of a man who is attached to his wealth and continues with Jesus’ warning against the false sense of security that wealth can create.

Jesus brings a message that is at odds with some traditional thought. We would like to suppose that good things happen to good people. Many believe that wealth is a sign that one is among the elect. Indeed, this belief may have been one of the major contributors to the historical roots of the American work ethic. Jesus is challenging these ideas in his discourse on the difficulty of salvation for the rich.

Since retiring, I often tell people that my wife is my primary source of joy, and my grandchildren are my primary source of purpose. I think that we are much more tolerant of our situation if we think that there is a purpose to it. My mother would tell me that there is a reason for everything. That was a thought that guided my family through the time when my oldest sister died, although it was hard to see how the loss of a mother of 9 could be part of a grand plan. In his book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People, Rabbi Harold Kushner also is at odds with some traditional thought. I would describe his view of God as the Great Comforter (as opposed to being the Great Intervener). I think that over the years, I have moved more in Rabbi Kushner’s direction. Although I still find myself praying for changes for the better in this world, I am not expecting God to cheat on the sometimes chaotic physics and biology that define this time and this place. Still, I continue to think that it is having a purpose that keeps us going, and I see this as a purpose that grows out of our “free will.”

My prayer today deals with flipped expectations.

Dear Lord,
I like to imagine a world in which the rewards of health, wealth, power, and happiness fall to those who are most deserving. That isn’t the way that things are and that isn’t the way that things were. I think of the lives of those we hold up as a saint or as a Savior.

I am reminded of St. Ignatius’ guidance that rather than focusing on where we stand in terms of of health, riches, honor, and longevity, we should instead focus on the end (or purpose) for which we are here.
Heavenly Father, help me recognize and appreciate the support that You provide.
Strengthen my will in providing support to those who are in my sphere of influence.
Guide me in wisely investing the time that I have on this earth.

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