Today’s Gospel passage, when taken plainly can make people shy away from religion. We are asked to give up all our material riches. For some, religion is a thing of the past. I ask myself if I prefer to die rich or in peace. I would want both. But if I were forced to choose, it would be peace. Without faith, or religion, death is the ultimate end; either does not matter. But when we ask the question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”, it is a ponder that comes from deep within, the voice of our soul.
“The word of God is something alive and active: it cuts like any double-edged sword but more finely: it can judge the secret emotions and thoughts. No created thing can hide from him” (Today’s Second Reading)
The word of God searches deep into us. We don’t need a religion or belief for that. No created being can hide from it. It searches deep into us, not to inflict a cut, but to draw out our true self who is essentially good to live with one another in this material world. We are all, without exceptions, this ‘good being’ for after all we are created in the likeness of God. This likeness of God is the desire and capacity to love. True love, God’s love, is to put others before self.
The double-edged sword cuts both ways. A blessing, and sometimes a torment. I am no scripture scholar and there are better understandings of its meaning. However, today we see the word of God being interpreted somehow to cast doubts over vaccinations. I am no medical expert either. And this is not an article for pro or anti vaxxers. But the question asked today is apt. When faced with the choice of being vaccinated, we should ask deep within our self, “Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
God gives us love. He showers it upon us even if we do not acknowledge it. This gift is constant, unconditional, and unlimited. We are rich with love. And apart from love, God also give us the freedom of choice. Freedom too is a double-edged sword. We first have the capacity then receive the freedom to love. Freedom too cuts both ways. We are consequences of our own action or inaction, and what others do or don’t will also affect our life. Likewise, when we think more for our self, it will negatively affect the other.
St Francis de Sales wrote on this holiness. Doing good in life because we want to inherit eternal life is of course very good. But there is a higher level of this holiness; we are driven to love so that the other gains salvation, without a thought of our own. I wrote a few weeks back about the spiritual exercise when applying sanitizers to our hands where we do it not first for our self but for the sake of the people around us. Being poor is spirit (Today’s acclamation) is to use love and freedom to choose the other first and surrender the consequences to God. The consequence here is to be repaid a hundred times over.
“I prayed, and understanding was given me; I entreated, and the spirit of Wisdom came to me. I reckoned no priceless stone to be her peer, for compared with her, all gold is a pinch of sand, and beside her silver ranks as mud.” (First Reading)
Live life with Wisdom. Pursue its richness. Who are we to others around us? It is how and what we choose to do with the love of God given to us that will determine if we cut it in life.
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time