USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Mark.
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.”
Good News Reflection: Sharing God’s wealth
In this Sunday’s Gospel reading, Jesus asks the rich young man, “Why do you call me good? Only God is good.” There’s a two-fold message here.
First, if the young man truly believes that Jesus is good and that his teachings are good (and wasn’t merely trying to win him over with flattery), and if he has observed his miracles and sinless life, then it should be obvious to him that all this goodness is proof that Jesus is God.
Secondly, Christ’s question offers the young man an opportunity to become more humble. If he truly believes what Jesus says, then he should realize that since only God is good, no one else, including himself, obeys the commandments perfectly. Such a realization should have opened his heart to the truth that Jesus explains next:
“There’s only one thing keeping you from being holy like God: earthly attachments. To gain freedom from this world and possess only what belongs to the kingdom of God share your treasures.”
He’s saying this to all of us, but he’s not telling us to become destitute. To “give up” everything we possess means being willing to give it away. If it’s a good thing for us to have because it blesses us, God does want us to enjoy it, but true joy comes from being God’s partner as a distributor of his wealth. It’s the fullest way to live! And we are all called to live this way.
If we remain attached to earthly stuff, we distance ourselves from God and hurt those who would benefit from our generosity. However, to achieve complete freedom from attachments, we cannot rely only on our own efforts. It’s often very difficult to let go and become willing to share everything.
The good news is that Jesus made it possible by taking our sins to the cross and sharing with us his own Holy Spirit, who empowers us to do whatever he asks of us. Our lives on earth become more fulfilling when we dare to share. The more we give to others in a spirit of love, the more we receive the treasures of heaven. Indeed, we become one of heaven’s treasures!
Questions for Personal Reflection:
In comparison to the holy ways of dealing with life’s circumstances that Jesus modeled for us, how unlike Jesus — how worldly — are you today? And how divine is your behavior? What earthly treasures have you given away? Decide upon an action that will help you detach from earthly treasures this week.
Questions for Community Faith Sharing:
Share the story of a time when you gave away an earthly treasure even though you really didn’t want to detach from it. What motivated you to give it away or let go of it? How did God repay you?
Lord: Do not let my attachment to human security prevent me from responding to Your call. Help me to give up those things that don’t let me follow You. Amen.
© 2018 by Terry A. Modica