#Meddlin’ is the reflection for October 11, 2015. What is your motivation to be Spiritual, or be Christian? Do you even recognize it? This reflection will help you understand why you do what you do and why it is important. Listen here in this reflection by Mark Kurowski: Download it into your phone. #MSAWordfortheDay #MySpiritualAdvisor #Sermon #Homily #Priority #LovingGod #Retreat #UpInHisBizness
For listener supported My Spiritual Advisor, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 10/11/2015 The 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Please pause this audio and read Mark 10:17-31.
“You must make God your first priority,” said the speaker at a retreat my youngest child went on a couple of summers ago. My daughter, Ruth, told me it changed her view of life from top to bottom. Prior to that moment, faith was something that was in her life and a big part of her life, but it was not central to her every day living.
When she returned from that retreat, I was thrilled at how her faith blossomed. She prays every day now. She reads her Bible more than I do. She is always looking for ways to serve others. Unfortunately, she does not have many people her age, in her school, who have faith as their number one priority. I would say that to find people with God, the Father, as their number one priority is hard to find anywhere, even in the church.
“In the Church?” you say? Yes, I said, “in the church.”
Look at the passage from today. A wealthy man comes to Jesus and asks what he must do to “inherit” eternal life. I highlight the word “inherit” because there is a certain attitude that comes with inheritance. As the executor of my mother’s future estate, I can tell you that in all the readings I have done on how to prepare for the event of someone’s death as the executor, there is one theme that comes up over and over again: entitlement. All of the literature gives you all kinds of warnings to get the intent of the person who is planning for the settlement of their estate. Why? Because people act crazy after someone dies.
Think about the stories about when someone dies. People you haven’t seen in a while show up when the distribution of assests takes place. All of a sudden, people have so many privileged claims to things because of their relationship with the deceased, or their conversation with the deceased. The television show, “The Good Wife” even had a story line in it about two siblings fighting over an $8 million painting their mother failed to account for in her arrangements for her own death.
We, in the church, often have an attitude of entitlement. We often talk about eternal life and getting into heaven as if we have a guarantee. It was not uncommon, and in fact is one of the claims of Amos against the people of Israel, that they thought that they could get into heaven just because they were Jews and that eternal life and favored status was due them. It was a given.
I know in politics, we often hear politicians going after the poor as if they are the only ones who feel they have a right to benefits. The passage from the Gospel of Mark today shows that an attitude of entitlement knows no socio economic boundary. Hear the words of Jesus as he tells us who has the entitlement to eternal life: “For mortals it is impossible to be saved. But for God, all things are possible.”
Eternal life is not ours to earn or to be given because we are rich, or members of the church, or because we do things the right way. We could do all kinds of good things on behalf of God, but if we do not have God as our priority, then they are nothing.
We know this because, look, what exactly is Jesus doing to this rich guy? For the most part, Jesus is telling him to keep the Ten Commandments [which we recited at the beginning today]. The rich man says, “I have done so since my youth.” Then Jesus turns to him and tells him that he lacks one thing: sell everything, give the proceeds to the poor, and then follow him. In short, Jesus is saying to the rich man: Make God your priority.
People come to church for many reasons. They come because they want community. People come because they want to be in charge. People come to church because they have always come to church. People come to church because it is important for them to be good. People come to church because they want to be right. People come to church because they want to show people how they dress (fancy or informal). People come to church because they want to show people how smart they are. (You are in trouble if right now you are thinking, “I know about ten people who need to make God a priority.”) There are a lot of reasons why people come to church, that are not revealed until something happens which causes the people in the church to say, “Wait a minute! Stop it, preacher, pastor, priest. Don’t go from preaching to meddling.”
Jesus, my friends, is not so much a preacher, but a meddler. As my kids would say, Jesus “went and got all up in the rich guy’s business.” Jesus said, to him, “you want to be all that? You want to be the best? You want to know for sure you have eternal life? Then sell all you have and follow me.” Jesus didn’t give him a platitude. Jesus gave the rich man a challenge that was real, that was about his life. What Jesus was doing was asking the rich man to change his priorities. Jesus went from preaching to meddling in his affairs and he went away grieving.
The passage says he went away “grieving”. Jesus struck at the root of what was truly valuable to the man. Jesus pointed out, without pointing out, that the first priority in the man’s life were his riches, not God. How did that rich man think he was going to get to heaven if he did not keep the First Commandment, even if he kept all the others? If you want to know what it is that you are placing before God in your life, just ask yourself one question: “What is the one thing I would have to give away to follow Jesus Christ that would make me grieve?” That, my friends, is the small “g” god in your life.
You can still have those things in your life, but they cannot be such priorities that you are willing to change your love of God for them. They must have their proper context. You must be willing to give them up at a moment’s notice, if it will benefit the mission of God in [our] your community. After all, it is not your mission. Life is n ot our mission. Life is God’s mission. He gave it. He can take it away. He can give it forever. It is God’s. It is not our inheritance. We have no right to life. Our life belongs to someone else and it will never be right until we live it for him.