THE TWENTY-FIRST SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
First Reading: Job 23: 1-9, 16-17
Comment: “The Almighty hidden from Job”
In the continuing saga, the much-besieged Job longs for a divine court from which he might seek redress and justice. He casts about on every side for God, but is met with a devastating absence of God’s presence. Though this reflection comes as a response to Job’s accusatory “friend” Eliphaz, it is in the nature of an interior monologue as his distress mounts and he is subjected to a pervading sense of isolation. Job believes in God’s justice, but is so bereft of any signs of its dawning that he thinks he would prefer entire darkness.
A psalm of lamentation and a plea for deliverance by one who feels deserted and pressed in on every side.
SECOND READING (The Epistle): Hebrew 4:12-16
Comment: “Approach the throne of grace”
The reading reminds us that the Lord’s word is active, probing the human heart and all creation, while we can yet boldly approach God’s throne because Jesus, our great high priest, has known our weaknesses and temptations. The first statement is a warning: God’s word, which God has spoken at the creation, through the scriptures, and personally in Jesus, is everywhere and makes judgement. But we now have a heavenly high priest, our brother, who knows all about our life, and helps us to find God’s mercy. The insistence that Jesus was without sin relies not on extensive knowledge of what he did not do, but on the memory of his positive dedication to God’s will.
THE HOLY GOSPEL: Mark 10:17-31
Comment: “Teaching on wealth and reward”
In the Gospel, Jesus counsels a man to sell all for the benefit of the poor and follow him, and he then teaches how hard it is for those with riches to enter the Kingdom. Disciples who now surrender much will receive back all manner of new relationships in the age to come. Jesus first refuses to let himself be called good since that description belongs to God alone. He then finds that the man has tried to live out his duties toward his neighbours in response to divine love. But the decision for discipleship must go beyond this. If the heart is divided by desires for worldly security, there is no way one can enter into the kingdom’s loving justice. Yet by the power of God people can be converted and saved.