Scripture: Judges2,11-19; Resp. Psalm: Ps106,34-37,39-40,43-44; Gosp. Accl.: Mt5,3; Gospel: Mt19,16-22
The people forsook God. They mixed up with the pagan nations round about them. They took their pagan cultural practises, customs and traditions. They went into idolatry. They played harlot after other gods and turned aside from the way their fathers had walked.
The people turned away from the commandment of Yahweh. In spite of their disobedience and stubbornness of heart, Yahweh sent Judges to lead them and put them on the right track. They obeyed these judges and followed the law of Yahweh while these judges lived. They returned to their evil ways after the demise of the judge sent to them.
It is understandable that worship of alien gods, disobedience of the law, disregard for the love with which Yahweh had loved them, deafness to His appeals, blindness to the marvels He worked for them in Egypt, the Red Sea and in the wilderness, could lead only to one end: disaster and destruction. If the people decided on their own that God was not enough for them, then their new protector should do the job.
We know exactly where this landed Israel. They were plundered by their enemies, sold into the power of those who plundered and made their lives unbearable. That happens when a people willfully decides to abandon the spring of living water and dug shallow cisterns for themselves. This happens when a people forgets what it was, where it came from, what state it was in.
These same laws and commandments are the ones our Lord proposed again to the one who came up to Him today to ask what good deed he must do to have eternal life. Our Lord told him plainly to keep the law of God and love his neighbour. When the man said he had observed all these and asked what more he needed to do to enter eternal life, our Lord told him to sell his possessions and give to the poor and become His disciple.
This young man's wealth became his stumbling block to discipleship. The word of God tells us that when he heard what our Lord told him, he went away sorrowful, because he had great possessions. He could not take that leap, dispossess himself of his earthly possessions and then possess the real pearl: eternal life. He left our Lord the way he came: empty and directionless.
In our lives the word today tells us to be mindful of attachment to people. The Israelites derailed because of their mixing up with and attachment to the wrong people. The word also warns us to beware of attachment to things, especially material possessions. This is because these act like Master's and leave no space for God in our lives' scheme of priorities. We must beware of their corruption and possessive tendencies.
Let us pray: Lord our God and Creator, you made our hearts and souls only for yourself. Give us your grace to love you above all things and put away all that distract our attentions from focusing on you. May our gaze focus totally on heaven and eternal, the prize for diligent stewardship. Amen.
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always.