Year B: 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Gospel: Mark 10: 17-30
At the time of Jesus, material prosperity was seen as a blessing. Hence the disciples astonishment when Jesus says that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God. This was turning received wisdom on it head.
Jesus did not ask everyone he met to give away all they had - Zacchaeus being a notable example. So, why should he ask this of the rich young man?
The young man has told Jesus that he has kept all the commandments but he obviously senses that there is something more. Jesus, we are told “looked steadily at him and loved him”. We can perhaps imagine a loving searching gaze which could go deep into the man’s being. Perhaps he was finely dressed - wearing rings - all the outward show of his wealth - but it would be in his eyes that Jesus would find the truth about him. And what Jesus saw, he liked - he saw the potential to do more: to become more. However, to do this, the young man needed to free himself to follow Jesus and to do that would mean giving away all the riches.
He is understandably unable to do this easily. It would not just be the riches that would be lost but the lifestyle they permitted - the comfort, security, fine food and wines and the admiration of others. And what would he be giving it up for?
The young man cannot make that decision. We do not know what became of him - but just maybe, the riches began to pall and his decision changed and, like Francis of Assisi, he found a way to follow the Master.
For those for whom this Gospel was written, it would have been a reassurance. Many of them would have found their families uncomprehending or hostile and that they really had given up everything to become a Christian. There would be times when they wondered if it was worth it and would have understood the words of Peter and welcomed the promise of Jesus.
Many Christians now have found ways to balance their faith and a degree of prosperity. It is good, however, to be reminded not to allow our wealth to gain too much of a hold over us because, one day, the Master will come to us, ask us to leave it all behind - and follow him into eternity.
What does it mean for me?
© 2006 Wellspring