Monday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
(Sirach 17:20-24; Mark 10:17-27)
In northern climes it is customary to think of death toward the end of the year when days grow short and winds chill the bones. Perhaps this is why All Souls Day is fixed in November. But today is a good day to reflect on death as the United States government has set it apart to remember the dead.
Memorial Day originated after the Civil War to remember the more than one-half million fallen soldiers in that conflict. It was placed at the end of May when flowers are in full bloom to decorate the graves of the war dead. Americans soon came to cemeteries on Memorial Day to pray for all their beloved dead. Nowadays many people tend to take a vacation on the extended weekend, but some consideration of the dead is still in order. After all if people to do not sufficiently reflect on death, they cannot adequately understand life.
The author of today’s first reading believes that death is the final event for a person. The dead may be remembered afterwards, but they will have no consciousness of the tribute. In the gospel Jesus suggests another view of death. Acknowledging the validity of the man’s question about eternal life, Jesus assumes that death can be transcended. For this to happen, one must rely not on one’s resources – be it wealth, education, or energy -- but completely on God. Unfortunately, the man in the gospel is not willing to go that far in faith. We pray now that our dead loved ones along with all those who died defending their country have submitted themselves to God in faith. We also pray for ourselves, as the reading from Sirach suggests, that we too may come to complete reliance on God.