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He Is in the Broken Places

First Reading: 1 Peter 1:3-9

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading,
kept in heaven for you
who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith,
to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time.
In this you rejoice, although now for a little while
you may have to suffer through various trials,
so that the genuineness of your faith,
more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire,
may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor
at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Although you have not seen him you love him;
even though you do not see him now yet you believe in him,
you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy,
as you attain the goal of faith, the salvation of your souls.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 111:1-2, 5-6, 9 and 10C

R. (5) The Lord will remember his covenant for ever.
I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart
in the company and assembly of the just.
Great are the works of the LORD,
exquisite in all their delights.
R. The Lord will remember his covenant for ever.
He has given food to those who fear him;
he will forever be mindful of his covenant.
He has made known to his people the power of his works,
giving them the inheritance of the nations.
R. The Lord will remember his covenant for ever.
He has sent deliverance to his people;
he has ratified his covenant forever;
holy and awesome is his name.
His praise endures forever.
R. The Lord will remember his covenant for ever.

Gospel: Mark 10:17-27

As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up,
knelt down before him, and asked him,
“Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good?
No one is good but God alone.
You know the commandments: You shall not kill;
you shall not commit adultery;
you shall not steal;
you shall not bear false witness;
you shall not defraud;
honor your father and your mother.”
He replied and said to him,
“Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.”
Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him,
“You are lacking in one thing.
Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor
and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”
At that statement, his face fell,
and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples,
“How hard it is for those who have wealth
to enter the Kingdom of God!”
The disciples were amazed at his words.
So Jesus again said to them in reply,
“Children, how hard it is to enter the Kingdom of God!
It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle
than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.”
They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves,
“Then who can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said,
“For men it is impossible, but not for God.
All things are possible for God.”

NAB

DEV_MA23

Late one recent evening, my husband and I were discussing today’s Gospel. I don’t remember how we even came upon the topic. I think it had been a long day rich in family-raising drama, one of those that causes you to question your abilities as parents. We didn’t have the Bible open before us, and were focusing on the “Give it all away because it’s nearly impossible for the rich man to enter heaven part.” In our already discouraged state, we came to the hopeless conclusion that maybe it’s just not possible to get this right either, the whole possessions thing. And if we can’t, then what?

I have a tendency to become somewhat attached to things: a settee that belonged to my grandparents, a special mug, a beautiful painted glass lamp purchased at an antique store. I still remember the night that lamp was broken, more than ten years ago. At the time, we had two wild little boys. I don’t recall which of them knocked the lamp from the bedside table, just my feeling of intense disappointment seeing it shattered on the floor. In that moment I had a choice: I could react with anger or with forgiveness, essentially choosing to prize the possession or the relationship.

As the mother of now seven children, five of them boys, we’ve moved beyond broken lamps to broken windows, broken furniture, and even broken appliances. Over these refining years of motherhood I’ve begun to relax in the face of destruction. I can usually say, “These are just things.” Though I will confess, it was particularly difficult with that broken oven, bought only weeks prior. (No, you can’t use the handle for a step up. It will never heat properly again.)

Essentially, these are worldly prizes that mean nothing in the face of eternity. Our relationships are the treasures here and now that will also become our treasures in Heaven. In a houseful of children, brokenness is a daily occurrence, and I recognize God in those moments now. This is the key that my husband and I neglected to recall in our discussion all those nights ago. Jesus tells us that while it is hard for the rich man to enter Heaven, anything is possible with God. He loves us and He wants us to spend eternity with him. God is in all the broken places, teaching us little by little to let go. With His Grace we can choose love, even as we watch our earthly possessions crumble.

In the face of today’s little inconveniences, choose to react with love rather than anger.

photo credit

Ginny Sheller lives in a little old house in Virginia with her husband and seven children. They keep bees, goats, and chickens and rarely have a clean house or a quiet moment.  You can find out more about her here

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