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The Wisdom of Giving Stuff Up | Breaking Open the Word at Home

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This week, the readings invite us to consider the Wisdom of God that comes to us in the Word.


by Jen Schlameuss-Perry

This Sunday, we’re reading the Scriptures for the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B. (You can get the readings at the USCCB website.)


In the first reading, from the Book of Wisdom, the writer teaches us that Wisdom is the most precious thing on earth—if we can be wise, all of our priorities will be right and we will make choices that bring life and joy. In the second reading, from the Letter to the Hebrews, we are told that the Word of God is “living and effective.” Of course, Jesus is the Word, and when He sees us, He sees with true wisdom and knows us completely. The Gospel from the tradition of Mark tells a great story, followed up by a teaching. A good, rich man asks Jesus what he needs to do to get to heaven and Jesus responds that he should sell everything that he owns, give the money to the poor, and follow Jesus. The man goes away sad—does that mean he didn’t sell everything, or that he was sad that he was going to have to change his life so dramatically? We don’t know. Jesus then goes on to say that it is very hard for rich people to get to heaven. The disciples are “exceedingly astonished,” because in their culture it was believed that wealth was a reward from God—affirmation from God that you were a good person. But Jesus knows that people who have much are often attached to their things; whether it’s money, food, clothes, time, power, Pokemon cards, Legos—whatever we have that we make more important than others and more important than God is an obstacle on our way to heaven.


Break Open the Word with Your Family


What do you think would be the hardest thing in the world for you to give up? Do you think that God would ever ask that of you? If He did, would you be able to do it?


When the rich man in the Gospel wanted to know what he should do to get into heaven, Jesus, “looking at him, loved him,” and then told him what he was not going to want to hear. Sometimes the answers to our questions are not what we want to hear, but are the best thing for us. Can you think of a time when you were given an answer that you didn’t like, or a situation occurred that you didn’t like but that turned out to be the best thing for you? Real wisdom is about accepting what appear to be hardships and finding the good that comes out of them.


The disciples try to apply the lesson that Jesus offered by saying that they have given up everything—implying that they should have some sort of reward. Jesus tells them that they will have a reward—that everyone who gives something up for Jesus will get it back tenfold…along with persecutions. He just kind of slips that in there. We are not “prosperity Gospel” people—that is one of the attitudes that Jesus is challenging with this story. Things will go wrong; we will have difficulties, unfortunate events, and persecutions no matter how good we are. But God never lets evil go unchallenged, and something good will always come out of it. What attitudes do you need to let go of to make room for God’s wisdom in your life?


A little lectio

The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for Kids to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.


A little Bible study

Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:

  • During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
  • Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
  • Take a look at the context for the readings—what happens before, or after?
  • Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
  • If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)

For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.


The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever.”


Follow Jerry Windley-Daoust:

Publisher, Gracewatch Media

Jerry Windley-Daoust is a writer, editor, and father of five. He writes essays and stories at Windhovering and is the show-runner for Gracewatch Media, a small Catholic publisher. You can follow his latest publishing projects at gracewatch.org.

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