October 11, 2015: Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments:
You shall not kill;
you shall not commit adultery;
you shall not steal;
you shall not bear false witness;
you shall not defraud;
honor your father and your mother.”
He replied and said to him, “Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven, then come, follow Me.” At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
Jesus looked around and said to the disciples.
“How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God.”
The disciples were amazed at his words. So Jesus again said to them in reply, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings, it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.” Peter began to say to him, “We have given up everything and followed You.”
Jesus said, “Amen I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake or for the sake of the Gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come.” (Mark 10: 17-30)
The man approaches Jesus and kneels – a gesture of homage. His request is genuine.
Jesus looks at him and loves him. Did the man notice?
He goes away sad. Does it make you sad also?
In explaining how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God, Jesus points out it is easier for a camel (the largest beast familiar to first century Jews) to pass through the eye of a needle (the smallest opening imaginable) than for one who is rich to enter God’s kingdom.
Material possessions can become the center of our lives. Worldly goods give us some independence. But is it not dependence on God’s Providence -becoming as children – that Jesus says brings us to God’s kingdom?
All things are possible with God.
Total detachment from one’s possessions is needed.
Wealth in itself is not evil. It is attachment to wealth that is.
Be aware of God’s love for you!
Be willing to offer your talent, time and treasure.
Many thanks for the moral distinction between wealth and the attachment to wealth.
I think we also may need to move beyond our attachment to the rules. The rich young man may have wanted assurance that following the rules was all it took. Jesus even replied to him, “You know the rules,” anticipating, I think, the teaching moment that would follow. Too many of our neighbors today will make an idol of “the rules” and waste their own precious energies scrupulously following the rules they know (and judging those who do not). What we all need to know is that our only attachment needs to be the one to love of God and love of neighbor. Everything else is, well, everything else.