A clue in a cryptic crossword: a quote from Homer in three letters. If you are a fan of The Simpsons on TV you would probably know the answer,” Duh!”
Maybe the man in today’s Gospel, whose face fell, also muttered something similar under his breath. We are told that he was wealthy, but I think that perhaps he was not too wise. Or maybe he had just forgotten those verses from the Book of Wisdom from which today’s First Reading comes: “Wisdom came to me. I esteemed her more than sceptres and thrones; compared with her, I held riches as nothing… for compared with her, all gold is a pinch of sand and beside her silver ranks as mud.
That’s not the message the world bombards us with. Lifestyle is what concerns the world. Celebrities and millionaires are presented to us as success stories to fill us with envy. A short cut to having a similar life ourselves is offered by lotteries.” It could be you!” we are told in TV commercials.
Jesus tells us the very opposite in the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the poor in spirit. Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”
What happened to the rich man whose face fell when Jesus told him to leave everything and to come follow him? No one knows. A more important question is to ask ourselves whether the values we use to guide our judgments are based on the values of the scriptures or on those of the advertisers.
The wisdom, which is presented to us by the author of the book of the same name, did not come to him out of the blue. He tells us he prayed for it: “I prayed, and understanding was given me; I entreated, and the spirit of Wisdom came to me.”
Today’s Responsorial Psalm puts words on our lips: “Make us know the shortness of our life that we may gain wisdom of heart.” Are we brave enough to say Amen to that?