Oct 9, 2015

A look to Sunday: "What's wrong with riches?"

The Gospel passage (Mk 10: 17-30)  chosen for this Sunday is a well known one.  A clearly well meaning and zealous young man approaches Jesus and asks: "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 

Great question!  It is one we all need to ask daily.  How can I get to heaven?  But here's the rub - he was very wealthy. Ok?  Jesus quotes the ten commandments, the heart of Jewish law and life, as for us as well.  The young man boasts: "Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth." And we begin to see the cultural insight - God has rewarded his faithfulness with riches, or so it was assumed.  

Then Jesus adds the clincher: "You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasures in heaven; then come, follow me."  You are lacking. Give away all these blessings?  The young man left saddened over Jesus' final demand so our Lord uses this for an opportunity to teach about the nature of discipleship as well as the misunderstanding that God somehow favors the rich - The "Gospel of Prosperity" as it is sometimes termed.

In point, material possessions, as much as we love them at times, can be a distraction to our spiritual growth.  They can sap our energy and form misplaced priorities in our life.  Yet, I know well of many very generous and spiritual folks who are of means but recognize their responsibility to see what they have as a moment to do great good for others.  So the rub is to ask how much power do my possessions have over me? Is my faith simply an afterthought, something that fits in when I have the time or am I really committed to follow the Lord as he asked the wealthy young man.  

Jesus does ask a great deal of us.  But, the more we give the more we receive.  If we want to be "blessed" by God then do good for others - give away and you will receive: "A hundred times more now in this present age: houses, brothers, sisters . . ."  

God can never be outdone in generosity but we need to clear our mind and our attachments in order to know and follow him.  Does the thought of all that make you go away sad?  The sin is greed and selfishness not riches alone.  

Much to ponder.  More to come . . . 

Mk 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."