God makes possible what is beyond our reach

By: By Sister Rachel Bergschneider, OSB

Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time/Oct. 11

Wisdom 7:7-11; Psalm 90:12-13,14-15,16-17; Hebrews 4:12-13; Mark 10:17-30

Once upon a time, there was a little boy who was very naughty and lazy for learning. His parents were very sad about this. One day, when he was playing along a canal, he saw an old woman holding an iron rod and sharpening it against a large rock. He approached the woman, but she did not notice. He was so surprised at what the woman was doing that he said, “Hello! What are you doing?”

The woman replied without looking up as she continued sharpening the iron rod, “You know, little boy, I want to make a needle out of the iron rod.”

The little boy was even more surprised and asked the woman, “The iron rod is so big. How can you make a needle out of it?”

“If today I cannot make a needle, then I will continue sharpening it tomorrow. The iron rod is indeed so big, but the longer you sharpen it, the smaller it will become. In the end, it will become a needle,” replied the old woman.

The boy discovered that whatever we do, it requires patience and no matter how difficult the work is, if we have persistence we will succeed in the end.

This woman had made a decision — a decision about what she was going to do with her days. She did not turn away because of the enormity of the task. She committed to staying at it until its completion.

The readings for today have a similar message. Granted, the young man in the Gospel story was unable to make the commitment to follow the Lord’s bidding completely. For that he was sad and walked away from the Lord.

I would suggest that all people of faith, at some time in our life, make the commitment to follow the Lord unreservedly — be it at baptism, at our marriage ceremony, at religious vows. After all, all of us are called to follow the Lord wholeheartedly and completely.

The woman was so determined that she did not even look up when approached by the boy. Her patience and persistence were her success. Unlike the woman, we look away, we take the iron rod away from the rock, we settle for less. We find reasons that we need to turn our attention or we give up — perhaps, because we lose patience and endurance, perhaps because something else grabs our heart.

The distractions keep us from pleading for the wisdom that shows us the perspective necessary to keep our goal in mind. We prefer the gold and silver of a good life; we choose comfort to the riches of God’s wisdom.

Jesus knew the young man’s heart, and he knew that the response he gave the young man was very challenging. But the difference with Jesus is the consoling words that “nothing is impossible with God.”

We do not have to rely upon ourselves for the patience and persistence to reach our goal. What is beyond our reach takes trust in God’s wisdom to do what we know we cannot do on our own. God’s invitation to us can penetrate our soul, aiding us in this discernment if only we do not walk away from God’s call to the fullness of life.


SISTER RACHEL Bergschneider, OSB, is a member of the Sisters of St. Benedict of St. Mary Monastery in Rock Island. She serves as pastoral associate at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Peoria Heights.

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