Reflection for Monday, August 16, 1999: 20th week in Ordinary Time.

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Whitney, Tamora
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Both readings today talk about how to follow God. Following God is very simple, but it is not easy. The Israelites know what they should do, but instead of following God, they worship Baal and other gods. The Lord has warned them that He will not protect them if they worship the other gods. If they do not follow His commandments, they will be ruined. And when they do not follow the commandments, and they are in fact delivered over to their enemies. God tries several times to claim them again. He sends judges, but even the judges can only keep the Israelites on the straight and narrow, worshipping God, for a little while, then the judges die and the Israelites are back to their evil ways, and back to worshipping other gods. And you'd think they would get the picture. While they are following the commandments and worshipping God, then they are victorious against their enemies. While they are worshipping Baal, they are given over to their enemies and are defeated. But even this cannot save them from temptation or from doing what is right. And they don't have to guess. They have been told what they should do, and they have been told the ramifications of their actions. They have been told that God will save them and protect them, and worshipping Baal will bring them to destruction, and that happens. But they still do not change their ways.||In the gospel reading we continue the theme of doing what is right and avoiding temptation. A man comes to Jesus wanting to do what is right. He wants to live a good religious life and asks Jesus how to accomplish this. Jesus tells him what the Israelites were told - that he has to keep the commandments and worship God. The man says he is already doing that. But this man wants to make extra sure that he will get in to heaven. He wants to have the inside track. Beyond the commandments, what can he do to insure his place in heaven. Jesus tells him to sell all he has and give it to the poor, then to follow Jesus - to become a disciple. But the man cannot do that, because he has many possessions. Jesus offers him reward in heaven. If he gives all his earthly possessions to the poor, he will have greater treasure in heaven, but the man cannot give up his certainty for uncertainty.||Following God is a simple process: worship God, follow the commandments. Be always about God. But this simple process is not an easy one. The world is full of temptations. There are many things around us all the time that get in the way and take us away from God. The Israelites were tempted by other gods. The man in the gospel put his possessions before God - probably the most common temptation in our modern world as well. Most of us have little problem with the commandments. I personally have never felt a desire to kill (I won't even kill animals for supper), and I honor my father and mother (we get along much better now that I'm grown up), but giving up all our possessions for a hope for something greater in the next world, that's hard. Giving up all we have here to follow Jesus, I'm afraid too many of us would be like the man in the gospel: "Hearing these words, the young man went away sad, for his possessions were many."
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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