THE POOR RICH YOUNG MAN
(A biblical refection on THE 28th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME [YEAR B] – 11 October 2015)
Gospel Reading: Mark 10:17-30
First Reading: Wisdom 7:7-11; Psalms: Psalm 90:12-17; Second Reading: Hebrews 4:12-13
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 for those who trust in riches 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.” Peter began to say to Him, “Lord, we have left everything and followed You.” Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for My sake and for the Gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.” (Mark 10:17-30 RSV)
Jesus had just given His disciples a stern warning about making one’s self an obstacle to love of God. He warned against pride and envy. “Keep yourself small,” He said, “by welcoming the little children.” He Himself blessed the children “because the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Mark 10:13-16).
Jesus also warned about putting “things” in the way of God’s love. The “rich young man” wanted to know how to arrive at his best potential, how to live forever … to inherit eternal life. He was not only rich (Mark 10:22), but also young in age (Matthew 19:22) and a person with a good position in the society (Luke 18:18), hence a “rich young man”. Jesus reminded this “rich young man” that there was a guide book, the commandments of God. The “rich young man” answered, “Teacher, all these I have observed from my youth” (Mark 10:20).
Jesus looked at the man’s fine clothing and expensive jewelry. This “rich young man” was quite sincere, but he had not been put to the test. He was well groomed, well fed, well protected from the hardships of life. It was time for him to face reality. According to Mark, Jesus laid it on the man but He presented it with love: “You need something more, friend. You’re in danger of letting the “kingdom of thingdom” get between you and God’s Kingdom. Go, sell it all! Give it to those who are in the real need, and come, follow me. Choose voluntary poverty, complete self-giving; trust completely in God for your earthly needs.”
The “rich young man” was visibly shaken. Apparently he wasn’t asking Jesus to challenge him, but only to approve of him. Jesus had opened the door wide to spiritual growth by leaps and bounds. But His light came too clearly through that open door. And it showed the man that he was really attached to his possessions. He was chained, hooked, bogged down. He was not able to free himself to follow Jesus.
O, how free You were, dear Jesus. How imprisoned was the “rich young man”. He walked away quietly and sadly. You looked at him, dear Jesus, shaking Your head, and as You turned back to Your disciples and friends You said, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the Kingdom of God” (Mark 10:23).
The poor disciples had always thought riches were a blessing from God! “Then who can be saved?” (Mark 10:26) they wanted to know. Jesus answered, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27).
Short Prayer: Lord Jesus, I surrender to You and to Your perfect plan for my life. Help me on this journey to do good to others instead of harm and to love You in everything I think and do and say. Amen.
Jakarta, 9 October 2015
A Christian Pilgrim