Faith is the surrender of all that we are to Christ

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Wis 7:7-11; Ps 90; Heb 4:12-13; Mk 10:17-30 or 10:17-27

By Bishop David McGough on Friday, 12 October 2012

Christ and the Rich Young Ruler by Heinrich Hofmann (1824-1911). ‘We instinctively sense the young man’s distress’Christ and the Rich Young Ruler by Heinrich Hofmann (1824-1911). ‘We instinctively sense the young man’s distress’

At the beginning of this Year of faith, the Holy Father invites us to pass through the “door of faith” so as to deepen our communion with God. He speaks of our hearts, summoned by the Word of God in the liturgy, crossing a threshold and allowing themselves to be transformed in his grace.

Today’s first reading, a prayer from the Book of Wisdom, is a wonderful introduction into this Year of Faith. Let us enter into the spirit of this prayer, praying for an understanding that enriches our faith, bringing it to life.

The prayer rests on a series of comparisons that highlight the choices and values that mould our lives. The God-given understanding sought in this prayer enabled to the supplicant to discern life’s choices from God’s perspective. This Wisdom, once grasped, was esteemed more than sceptres and thrones. Compared to her, riches were as nothing. “I loved her more than health or beauty, preferred her to the light, since her radiance never sleeps.”

The beauty of the language describes a soul inflamed with the love of God. This is the fullness of faith for which we pray during this year, a faith that brings us to life. For such faith to grow we must choose, as the author of this prayer chose. Life sets before us many alternatives, some of them very attractive. The first step in faith is to choose, and to choose for God.

During the year we are invited to allow the Word of God to lead our faith. Today’s passage from the Letter to the Hebrews describes that word as “alive and active, cutting like any double-edged sword”.

In the days ahead let us allow the Word of God in the scriptures to be that two-edged sword bringing discernment to our lives. Sometimes the experience will be uncomfortable as the Word judges “the secret thoughts and emotions of the heart”. This judgment, however uncomfortable, is an indispensable step in the growth of faith. A loving God not only calls us to himself in faith; at the same time, he reveals within us everything that stands in the way of his call. During this Year of Faith it would be a useful exercise to find the time in prayer to read the Sunday gospels, allowing them to speak to us personally.

Mark’s account of the encounter of Jesus with the rich young man, heard in prayer, reveals the development of faith. The young man’s opening question underlines faith’s ultimate purpose: “Good master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Like the young man, we are searching for meaning and purpose in life. Where do we find it? Already we have made a beginning. Like the young man we have, insofar as our frailty permits, surrendered our lives to the will of God.

Perfect faith, however, reaches far beyond conformity. Faith is deeply personal, the surrender of all that we are and hope to become to the person of Christ. “Jesus looked steadily at him and loved him, and he said: ‘There is one thing you lack… go, sell all that you have, then come, follow me.’ ” We instinctively sense the distress of the young man as he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.

Ultimately, faith calls us to a deeply personal relationship with the Lord. If we are to enter that relationship with joy, we must be willing to make the choices that set us free for the Lord who calls.

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