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October 11th - The Quest for Eternal Life

Homily for the 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

The idea of being on a quest or a journey might not be the most obvious image from this Sunday's Gospel, but it is the image that I continued to come back to as I prepared my homily this week. You may or may not know this about me, but one of my favorite parts about being a priest is hearing stories. I've enjoyed stories from the time I was very little. I enjoyed watching stories in movies and TV shows. I enjoyed reading about them in books or newspapers. I especially became very excited to get immersed in good stories in video games. We've been telling stories as human beings for as long as we've been able to speak or draw pictures; however, there is one type of story that has stood against the sands of time. This is the story of quests or journeys. As a matter of fact, in the Gospel, the young man encounters Jesus while He is "journeying," the Gospel tells us. I think we're so fascinated by these stories because they have one quality that we can really get behind as people - that is the triumph of the human will. For many of our protagonists, they encounter some type of obstacle between them and their ultimate goal. They have to overcome odds in order to succeed. We enjoy being witnesses to these triumphs because we hope that they inspire us to overcome our own obstacles.

"What must I do to enter eternal life," is the question the young man asks Jesus on his own journey of faith. Jesus's response seems simple at first; however, when He invites the young man to go deeper, the young man realizes that this part of his journey will be the most difficult yet. The Gospel tells us that he walks away sorrowful. He's followed the commandments up to this point, but he has a hard time coming to terms with selling all he has in order to follow Jesus. 

The invitation from Jesus isn't simply about wealth as it is about stripping ourselves from the things that distract us from God. In the 21st century, there are many things that bring us happiness; yet, there is always a longing left in our hearts despite that happiness. That longing is never quenched until we finally enter into Heaven. The Lord made us for Himself after all. So, "what must I do to enter eternal life," might be a question we all ponder.

Jesus's response to this question is simple; yet, it may not be perceived as simple for us. The most common theme in what Jesus says in all four Gospels is LOVE. For most of us, we hear this word so often that we can feel as though it is a very cliche word; however, we have to know what Jesus means by this. To love God means to actually take time out of your day for God. God is not going to simply gift you with 2 extra hours every day to spend with Him. In order to have a relationship with anybody, you have to spend time with them. The same goes for God. Pray, praise, thank God for the gifts that you've been given. When you're at Mass, loving God means responding with song and prayer. We must allow the Word of God and the Sacrament of His Body and Blood to truly reach us at our deepest core. That should inspire the courage, strength, valor we need to see Christ in everyone around us. When someone needs our help, it would mean loving them through helping them in whatever way you can. You can't do everything, but you can at least try. It means listening to someone if they are speaking to you. You might be the only person they trust with this part of their life. You could be the only one they trust with something. Honor that by listening to them.

"What must I do to enter eternal life?"
The master responds:
"Love one another as I have loved you"