Scripture reflection: The Word of God is alive and active

30 September 2021

Let us pray for the wisdom to help us show our love of God through the good we do each day. 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B, 10 October 2021

Lectionary readings
First reading: Wisdom 7:7-11
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 89(90):12-17
Second reading: Hebrews 4:12-13
Gospel: Mark 10:17-30
Link to readings

The readings this week give us an opportunity to step back from the busy-ness of our everyday lives to consider more deeply the riches we have been given, and what it is we truly value.

In the First Reading, the spirit of Wisdom has come to the writer through prayer. Beside her, everything else that might be valued on earth seems worthless, and pales into insignificance. The Psalmist revels in the joy that comes from knowing the love of God, and witnessing to God’s glory. It is through constantly pursuing wisdom of heart that we will be sustained in our service of the Lord.

In the Second Reading the author of the letter to the Hebrews likens the word of God to a sword that can penetrate every aspect of our lives. Living and acting in accordance with the word draws us ever closer to the God who knows and loves us through and though.

These themes of wisdom, selfless values, and service to the Lord are drawn together in the Gospel story of the rich young man, whose attachment to wealth prevents him from truly following Jesus. Through this encounter, Jesus teaches that whatever we leave behind to follow him will be far surpassed by the treasures we will inherit in heaven.

During this week, we might pray for the gift of ever greater wisdom to help us recognise and seize every opportunity to show our love of God through the good we do each day.

Hebrews 4: 12–13
The word of God is something alive and active: it cuts like any double-edged sword but more finely: it can slip through the place where the soul is divided from the spirit, or joints from the marrow; it can finely judge the secret emotions and thoughts. No created thing can hide from him; everything is uncovered and open to the eyes of the one to whom we must give account of ourselves.

I come to the place where I have chosen to pray, and begin to settle. Perhaps I light a candle as a visible sign of the Lord’s presence with me, or maybe I have an image or a crucifix to help me focus.

I take a few deeper breaths – taking in God’s loving welcome, and letting go of any concerns and stresses I am carrying. When I am ready, I slowly read this short passage several times. I may like to read it aloud, noticing the effect hearing particular words or phrases has on me. For a few moments I may want to examine these words or phrases more deeply, to appreciate better the feelings that arise in me.

I look back, gently and without judgment, over the past few days or weeks to notice how the word of God has been alive and active in my life. Perhaps I recall these as times of joy and encouragement, when I was able to share my love of the Lord with others through my words and deeds. Or it may be that I am aware of regret for an opportunity missed, or sorrow over a sinful action.

Whatever comes to mind, I speak openly and honestly with the Lord about it. In time, I reflect more deeply on what it means for me to know that in my personal relationship with God everything is uncovered and open. Do I find this comforting or challenging? How does it make me feel?

Confident in the knowledge that I am utterly loved and forgiven, I can be truly honest about my deepest desires and needs, and admit where I need help to live the best life I can in the service of the Lord. 

I draw my prayer to a close in my own words, asking that the word of God becomes ever more alive and active in me.

Mark 10: 17–30 (part)
Jesus was setting out on a journey when a man ran up, knelt before him and put this question to him, ‘Good master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: You must not kill; You must not commit adultery; You must not steal; You must not bring false witness; You must not defraud; Honour your father and mother.’ And he said to him, ‘Master, I have kept all these from my earliest days.’ Jesus looked steadily at him and loved him, and he said, ‘There is one thing you lack. Go and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ But his face fell at these words and he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth. Jesus looked round and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!’ The disciples were astounded by these words, but Jesus insisted, ‘My children,’ he said to them, ‘how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’ They were more astonished than ever. ‘In that case’, they said to one another, ‘who can be saved?’ Jesus gazed at them. ‘For men and women’, he said, ‘it is impossible, but not for God: because everything is possible for God.’

I open my heart and mind to the Lord’s loving presence with me as I settle down to pray. As I read the words of the Gospel, it may help to imagine the scene. How do I feel as I see the look of love that Jesus has for the young man? How do I respond to his sadness as he realises that he isn’t able to give up his wealth? Do I share the astonishment of the disciples as they hear Jesus’s teaching, and seek to understand its meaning?

Maybe I can put myself in the young man’s place, and let Jesus look at me with that same love. What might he be asking of me? Are there riches (not necessarily material) to which I cling, which prevent me from being free to follow him as he asks?

I spend some time pondering these questions with the Lord. I end my prayer asking the Lord for the grace to know him more clearly, love him more dearly, and follow him more nearly, day by day.

Prepared by St Beuno’s Outreach in the Diocese of Wrexham