28th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Readings: Wisdom 7:7-11; Hebrew 4:12-13; Mark 10:17-30
Next Sunday, the Universal Church will witness the canonization in Rome of 7 holy persons among whom is Blessed Marianne of Molokai, who left everything in Syracuse, NY and followed the call of the Lord. Mother Marianne, a Sister of St. Francis of Syracuse came to Hawaii in 1883 and died at Molokai in 1918. She committed herself to what nobody else wanted to do, to care for the lepers of Kalaupapa in Molokai along with St. Damien. She responded to the call of Christ that we hear from the Gospel of today “Go, sell what you have...; then come follow me.” Mother Marianne sought the wisdom of God by responding to come to Hawaii to make a difference for God among the lepers. By her heroic sanctity of life, she configured herself to Christ and persevered in such terrible conditions. By the time she died in 1918, she was not well known outside of Hawaii. No one knew better than Mother Marianne, herself a nurse, both the risks and the demands of living among the lepers. What sustained her was holiness of life and trust in God. In response to the invitation to come to work among the lepers, Mother Marianne wrote, “I am hungry for the work….I am not afraid of any disease…”
Saint Marianne of Molokai to be canonized next Sunday lived the message proclaimed in today’s Gospel. Unlike the rich man, contrary to the expectations of this world, Mother Marianne left everything: left family, friends and her community of Sisters in Syracuse and went to the unknown. What Jesus demands of the rich young man of his time, he demands of us today. The example of Mother Marianne is inspiring to the young people of today. Like in the case of Mother Marianne, to obtain eternal life is not a matter of doing something, but a question of freeing oneself from worldly cares and pleasures, so that God may save us. In other words, it is a call not only to renounce everything we own, but also to give our total selves to Christ like Mother Marianne. That is precisely what we lack like the rich man in the Gospel, namely detachment from everything that hinders our spiritual journey. Only then like Mother Marianne, can we become free to follow Christ and to be totally identified with Christ. To seek salvation is to start a journey with Christ towards perfection, towards the exclusive love of God. Selling everything means freeing oneself of the idols that weigh us down and prevent us from responding fully to Christ's invitation. So what is the message? 1) Jesus challenges us to detach ourselves from everything that hinders our spiritual journey; 2) More than ever before, we are challenged to free ourselves of the idols that weigh us down and prevent us from responding fully to Christ's invitation. Saint Marianne of Molokai, pray for us.
©2012 John S. Mbinda