( A commentary on Mark 10: 17-27)
And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: `Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.'” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have observed from my youth.” And Jesus looking upon him loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” At that saying his countenance fell, and he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions.
And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”(Mark 10: 17-27)
Today’s gospel offers us a profound look at the true meaning of life. It’s a lesson that we can’t afford to overlook.
It’s not a rant about being wealthy. It’s an honest dialogue which should cause us to look within – but only if we are willing to accept the consequences.
It’s easy to sum up the incident in today’s gospel. Misplaced hope and treasure.
Why did the young man go away from Jesus with great sorrow and sadness rather than with joy? His treasure and his hope for happiness were misplaced. Jesus challenged the young man because his heart was possessive. He was afraid to give to others for fear that he would lose what he had gained. He sought happiness and security in what he possessed rather than in who he could love and serve and give himself in undivided devotion.
If we read that summary and move on, we are missing what our faith is all about.
Rabbi Abraham Heschel, one of the great religious thinkers of the last century, has said that only three things are necessary for us to connect with God: God’s willingness to love us, the capacity of the human soul to receive that love, and a moment in which those two realities can meet
Those three absolutes are with us throughout our life.
God is always loving us, we are always capable of receiving that love, and there is always a moment in which we and God can connect. Therefore, in this sense, finding joy and connecting with God is easy. It is simple, immediately accessible, like breathing in and breathing out, as present to us as our own consciousness.
We do not know what possessions the young man had, but whatever they were, the man put them before what Jesus was offering. Whatever they were, they distracted him from the life and the joy that Jesus was offering and that he so deeply desired. That is the tragedy of today’s gospel. It is a tragedy in which you and I can share.
We are not that different than the young man. We can be so involved in our work, in our responsibilities, in our problems, in our aches and pains, that we miss the beauty that surrounds us. In missing that beauty, we miss the joy that it can give us and the God who offers it to us.
Think of the people in your life who love you, who belong to you, who give you joy. Could you imagine greater blessings? Yet we can become so preoccupied by all we need to do before we go to bed tonight, by the things which make us angry, by the way we want our lives to be different, that we miss the love that surrounds us. In missing that love, we miss the joy that it can give us and the God who offers it to us. Look at the real opportunities that are present to you in your life right now: the opportunity to grow, the opportunity to understand, to serve, to laugh, to enjoy what you have been given.
We need to rely less upon the distractions of life and to learn about and accept spiritual poverty. That means entrusting ourselves to the God who cares for the lilies and the sparrows, who knows what we need, and who will always provide. We likewise need to be willing to use all that God has given us — not just our money, but our time and personal gifts — for others if we’re really going to be able to follow Christ fully and freely.
So, camels are about us, about what we cannot do. We are unable on our own to enter the kingdom of God. Only God can bring us in. Only God can allow a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. We cannot on our own bring about the kingdom of God. Our relationship to God is all God’s work, all grace.
We cannot make Christ come; he is already there waiting for us to open the door for him when he knocks.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, you have captured our hearts and opened to us the treasures of heaven. May you always be my treasure and delight and may nothing else keep me from giving you my all.”
Jesus is disappointing because he evades our human logic. The world convinces us to interpret our existence as a grand business in which we ought to reach the highest position, maybe to the detriment of others. The world persuades us to present ourselves as independent and self-sufficient adults. Jesus invites us not only to let go of what we think we have achieved, but even to be self-sufficient no longer: to get behind Him, to follow Him, putting our feet where He has placed His like a child behind his father.