October 10, 2021 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The unnamed young man in today’s gospel asks a significant question, he approaches Jesus and asks simply, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
- In other words, “what must I do in order to be saved?”
- The young man is obviously a person of great goodness.
- He has kept all of God‘s Commandments, yet there is something stirring in his heart.
- He is eager for more. He has a restlessness in his heart.
What Jesus asks of him is difficult.
The coffee mug
Let me use your imagination for a moment. Imagine that you are at Starbucks and you’re holding a warm mug of your favorite coffee
- You like coffee and whenever you go to Starbucks you bring your coffee mug and always order the same thing.
- However, you are thinking to yourself, “maybe there might be a better kind of coffee”.
- So you bring your mug up to the counter to the barista and ask for something more satisfying.
- The man replies, “sure we have just the thing, a special brew. It tastes fantastic, fills you up and the taste will last the entire day.”
- So he asks for your coffee mug.
- You hesitate for a moment because you’ve never tried this special brew and you’re a bit suspicious
- You ask yourself, “what happens if I don’t like it”
- You think, “maybe I should just stick with the kind of coffee that I like because it’s familiar.”
- You have only one coffee mug and you can’t have both.
- To get the special brew, you will have to pour out your favorite coffee.
This is a bit like the situation that the young man finds himself in the gospel.
- His spiritual mug is full of wealth and possessions.
- Jesus is offering him something more.
- However, it means that he must empty his cup so that Jesus can fill it.
The gospel records an interesting dialogue between Jesus and the rich young man.
- It is obvious that the young man is seeking something more.
- He yearns to be filled. He approaches Jesus and says, “good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
- It’s strange but Jesus doesn’t answer his question. To the contrary he has another question, “why do you call me good?”
- After this opening dialogue Jesus challenges him.
- He says “well then keep all God‘s Commandments if you want eternal life.”
- The young man, probably in his early twenties responds, “teacher I have done all of these things since I was very young.”
Jesus loves him
A curious statement follows. St Mark tells us that Jesus looks at him and loves him.
- Jesus sees in him the potential for greatness
- . Jesus sees in him the potential for great holiness. Then he offers the surprising invitation, “come, follow me.”
- In order for that to happen Jesus tells him that he must abandon everything that would prevent him from doing so.
- Jesus makes an unexpected demand: “go sell everything you have, give the money to the poor and begin the adventure of discipleship”.
- This may seem a bit surprising.
- He tells the man to let go of everything that he is most attached to.
- You would think that if Jesus really loved him, why would he ask him to give up everything that he valued most?
- If Jesus really loved him why would he be so demanding.
- The answer is because he loved him so much that he wanted what is best for him.
- So Jesus asked him to follow the path of wisdom instead of the path of comfort.
- God is demanding with those he loves.
- The response of the young man is disappointing.
- His face falls and his heart sinks because he has too many possessions and can’t let go of them.
- Essentially he prefers the satisfaction of his possessions and security to the rewards of discipleship.
Ultimately in answer to his question, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus responds simply, “follow me!
Jesus looks at us in the same way that he looked at the rich young man. He looks at us and loves us.
- He doesn’t call us to a life of comfort.
- Instead, He calls us to a life of wisdom for his kingdom.
- God sees in each of us our full potential.
- He sees in us the possibility for great holiness.
He wants each of us to be the best version of ourselves. As a result, God is demanding.
Possessions and wealth
In the second part of the gospel Jesus talks about possessions and wealth as obstacles to the kingdom of God.
- He infers that one must divest them self of all of these things.
- It’s not so much that possessions and wealth are evil in themselves.
- What Jesus sees is that they can become an end in themselves.
- It is so easy for a person’s life to be totally dominated by possessions, popularity and power.
- All of these things prevent one from totally following Jesus and his way of life.
- In the gospel Jesus goes so far as to say that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter into the kingdom of God.
- The disciples are amazed.
- Imagine the impossibility of a large camel trying to pass through the eye of a needle.
- The bottom line is that it is impossible.
In the gospel today we hear the story of the rich young man who remains nameless.
- He missed the opportunity of a lifetime.
- Jesus invited him to come, and follow him.
- He could have been remembered in history as one of Jesus’ disciples
- However, he chose to hang on to his possessions and melt into history.
- God made us for more.
- In the spiritual life we can form unhealthy attachment to things like wealth, health or relationships.
- Nevertheless, Jesus invites us to follow him.
- He is the answer to the question, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Here’s the gospel challenge for this week.
- Carve out some quiet time maybe 10 or 15 minutes. Invite Jesus into your heart,
- Ask him to remove any distractions.
- Let him touch your heart and be with you in these moments.
- Ask Jesus what things in your life you need to give up.
- Ask him what things are preventing you from a closer relationship with him and then ask Him to give you the grace to let go of those things.
- In short, leave nothing off-limits to God.
- Don’t worry, remember what Jesus said in the gospel, “all things are possible with God.”