Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - Priorities
As people grow older, the majority of them mature. They find themselves reassessing values they considered either important, or unimportant, in their youth. Today's reading touch on this process of values.

Wisdom 7: 7-11:‚  The author draws attention to the fact that, in life, the most important thing is to know what life means.‚  Such knowledge outweighs material wealth in making a person happy.

Hebrews‚  4: 12-13:‚  Those to whom this letter was written were leading lives of dull, moderate mediocrity and they needed to appreciate more clearly the challenge involved in their vocation.

Mark 10: 17-30: ‚ For Christ the challenge was clear cut - to live a life motivated by the love of God; separated from that, nothing mattered whether it be the commandments, the giving up of material wealth or its aggrandisement.

Point 1 - One of my most 'unfavourite' words in common use today is "prioritise". However, if one can't beat them, then one must join them. And so, for our purposes today, "to prioritise" is what we are about as followers of Christ - getting our values straight. And, as with all evaluation programmes, the process will involve honesty as we examine our attitudes to life and the way‚  we are living it and compare our conclusions with the standards proposed by our Christian calling.

From time to time, I hear the comment -"how can one be sure of the Christian interpretation of life"? The inference is that it would be a pity to deny oneself the so-called good things of life and then find that there is no prize! The fallacy of this thinking is in the presumption that everything about the Christian challenge is negative. Unfortunately, the positive aspects of a Christian response to life's situations receive scant attention in a society so given over to "greed and the good times". G. K. Chesterton, English author and convert to Catholicism, had this comment to make on this subject -"He did not know anyone who, on his death-bed, regretted having been a practising Christian". His reason was that such a person, regardless of whether there was a God and eternal reward for goodness, already had the satisfaction of a good life well spent.

Point 2: Tthe challenge offered by religion is frequently not taken up because of perceived contradictions stemming from science. Some of these apparent contradiction have arisen from a too literal interpretation of the Scriptures; at other times it is because Science makes an unjustified claim to be Wisdom in its totality.

One of the great names in the history of Science, Blaise Pascal was one of the more eminent mathematicians and physicists of his day and one of the great mystical writers in Christian literature. His religious works are personal in their speculation on matters beyond human understanding.

Most widely known as a mathematician, scientist, and author, Blaise Pascal embraced religion late in his short life. Pascal drew on the principle of probability; he argued that faith is reasonable; although no one can prove God'€™s existence or non existence, the benefits of believing in God, if God in fact exists, far outweigh the harm of such a belief if it is in fact false. In other words, for Pascal, science cannot prove the existence of God; but neither can it disprove the existence of such a Being.

Conclusion: It is this wisdom that is spoken of in our first reading, - knowing what life means, and knowing how to get the most out of it. There will be times when one has to make choices enabling each person to recognise his or her vocation. And, as the author of the letter to the Hebrews writes, such wisdom - " can judge the secret emotions and thoughts.... everything is uncovered and open to the eyes of the one to whom we must give an account of ourselves". It is this wisdom that enables us to seize the opportunities that come, not only at the key turning points in our lives, but also in the little ways that present themselves each day of our lives. Such is the challenge of today's Gospel; it echoes the challenge given in the Book of Proverbs

Scriptural reference: Do not let loyalty and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favour and good repute in the sight of God and of people. [Prov 3:3-4]