Gospel and Reflection, 10 October 2021
Gospel: Mark 10:17-27
Give everything you own to the poor, and follow me
Jesus was setting out on a journey when a man ran up, knelt before him and put this question to him, ‘Good master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: You must not kill; You must not commit adultery; You must not steal; You must not bring false witness; You must not defraud; Honour your father and mother.’ And he said to him, ‘Master, I have kept all these from my earliest days.’ Jesus looked steadily at him and loved him, and he said, ‘There is one thing you lack. Go and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ But his face fell at these words and he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.
Jesus looked round and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!’ The disciples were astounded by these words, but Jesus insisted, ‘My children,’ he said to them ‘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 a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’ They were more astonished than ever. ‘In that case’ they said to one another ‘who can be saved?’ Jesus gazed at them. ‘For men’ he said ‘it is impossible, but not for God: because everything is possible for God.’
Jesus’s interaction with the rich young man does not seem to burst with “good news.” After seeking out Jesus and asking him how he might inherit eternal life, the young man ends up leaving in sadness. He is unable to give up his possessions in order to follow Jesus as a disciple. And yet, perhaps within this seemingly tragic sentence, “he went away sad,” we catch an echo of salvation hidden in the young man’s grief.
We can see from this gospel that the young man is a seeker. The sense of lack in his life is what brings him to Jesus in the first place. Though he has many possessions, youth and perhaps health, and family (all of the things the world counts as good), something is missing. He has kept the law, but he knows there is more, and he approaches Jesus searching for the “more” that he cannot even define. Although he leaves his interaction with Jesus feeling sad,
this sadness may be the very thing that will eventually lead him back again in the ongoing process of conversion that we all engage in every day.
In our own lives we know our relationship with Jesus cannot be reduced to checking off good deeds or avoiding bad ones. Instead, the life of faith often requires finding, losing, and finding again our heart’s greatest desire – to join with the one who calls us by name. At times on this journey of faith, we might find ourselves walking away sad, unable yet to give a complete “yes” to Jesus. When this happens, may these emotions be the key to true discernment of where, and in whom, our true happiness lies.
Sunday’s gospel provides a good example of a man whose possessions “own him” rather than him owning his possessions. How might God be calling you to give up certain material things in order to gain greater freedom in the spiritual life?
St Teresa of Avila (1515–1582) – Feast day 15th October
Christ Has No Body
Christ has no body but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours, Yours are the eyes with which he looks Compassion on this world, Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good, Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, Yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours, Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.