October 14, 2018: Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading: Mark 10: 17-30
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 his 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 and 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.”
Possessions. Stuff. Baggage. Weight. Burden.
We have all of the above, don’t we? I know that I have it. Some of it is physical stuff that we hold on to and stow away, dust off and move from one house to the next. Some of it is invisible stuff that we hold on to so that we feel safe, so that we have an identity that keeps us feeling in control and able to walk around. Some of it is completely dead weight — remembered hurts from past relationships that we feed and fan, words carelessly thrown at us in anger, loneliness after not being invited to a party.
“We have given up everything and followed you.” I have not given up everything to follow Jesus. I am afraid to do that. I know some people whom I think have come pretty close to giving up everything to follow Jesus, and even they tell me that this is a daily cross and struggle. I used to think that this passage meant that one day I had to dump out everything and walk on with Jesus on the spot. I now have a sense that this is a really long and slow process of letting go and walking quietly on with Jesus’ encouragement. That feels livable, manageable and less scary to me. And I can feel progress in myself. I think Jesus can, too.
Do a little personal inventory in the next week. Is there “stuff” that you are holding on to that requires some letting go, some casting off, some re-ordering, some unpacking? What would it take for you to release what you are holding?