Ps 106:34-35, 36-37, 39-40, 43ab & 44
Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
20TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
Psalter: Week 4 / (Green)
1st Reading: Jdg 2:11-19
The Israelites treated Yahweh badly for they served the Baals instead. They abandoned Yahweh, the God of their ancestors who had brought them out of Egypt, and served other gods, the gods of the neighboring peoples. They bowed before those gods and offended Yahweh.
When Yahweh saw that they had abandoned him to serve Baal and Ashtaroth, he became angry with his people and gave them into the hands of plunderers who left them in misery. He himself sold them to their enemies who completely surrounded the Israelites, so that these Israelites could no longer withstand them. Whenever they felt strong for an offensive, Yahweh would turn against them and send evil upon them, as he had warned them and sworn to do. And this caused much distress and anguish for the Israelites.
Yahweh raised up “judges” (or liberators) who saved the Israelites from their exploiters. But neither did they obey those “judges” for they still prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them. They soon left the way of their fathers who obeyed the commandments of Yahweh; they did not follow the way of their fathers.
When Yahweh made a judge appear among his people, Yahweh was with him and saved them from their enemies. That lasted as long as the judge lived, for Yahweh was moved to pity by the lament of his people who were oppressed and persecuted. But when the judge died, they again became worse than their ancestors—worshiping and serving other gods. They would not renounce their pagan practices and stubborn ways.
Gospel: Mt 19:16-22
It was then that a young man approached Jesus and asked, “Master, what good work must I do to receive eternal life?” Jesus answered, “Why do you ask me about what is good? One, only, is good. If you want to enter eternal life, keep the commandments.” The young man said, “Which commandments?” Jesus replied, “Do not kill; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not bear false witness; honor your father and mother. And love your neighbor as yourself.”
The young man said to him, “I have kept all these commandments. What do I still lack?” Jesus answered, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell all that you possess, and give the money to the poor; and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come back and follow me.”
On hearing this, the young man went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.
In today’s gospel; reading Jesus asks a rich young man to give up his wealth so as to follow him more closely. Now, since Jesus did not ask this of other followers of his (Lazarus and his two sisters, Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, Zaccheus, the rich ladies who sponsored his ministry) (cf. Lk 8:3), there was no doubt that the young man was enslaved to wealth. In other words, his wealth was an idol he worshipped. Because, at the bottom, an idol is anything you give your heart to, anything on which your life is focused—other than God.
But nowadays there are many idols competing for our hearts. Surely one’s career can easily become such an idol. Because in our times there are many people—men and women—who live for their career, for the money it brings, for the power and the prestige that come with a high-sounding title and position.
Whatever our idol happens to be, it must be ruthlessly discarded because it will always disappoint us eventually. We are made for God and nothing less will ever satisfy our hearts. “Our heart is restless, Lord, until it rests in you” (St. Augustine, Confessions I: 1).
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