Reading 1: Wisdom 7:7-11
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm: 90:12-13, 14-15, 16-17
Reading 2: Hebrews: 4:12-13
Gospel: Mark: 10:17-30 or 10:17-27
When I worked with CTU’s young adult program, Catholics on Call, I was often struck by the many choices that young people face today. They are confronted with options involving education, profession, lifestyle, marriage, faith and spirituality, and many others. This dizzying array of choices can be daunting for some young people, especially as they realize that choosing one option usually entails renouncing others. I remember the words spoken by one young adult: “There is just so much to figure out.”
In the Gospel passage for this Sunday, a wealthy man approaches Jesus with deep desire and evident enthusiasm. He addresses Jesus in a spirit of reverence and affection – “Good Teacher.” He comes to Jesus with the hope of finding the answer to a profound human question: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” This man assures Jesus that he has observed the commandments of the Torah, but it is evident that he is not satisfied with such observance. He wants to do more. Mark tells us that Jesus looked on this man with love. But when Jesus invites the man to sell what he has, give to the poor, and follow him in the mission of proclaiming the Reign of God, the man is left speechless. Jesus’s invitation is too much for him; he leaves with his face downcast.
This Gospel encounter is a striking example of what is said in the second reading for the liturgy, from the Letter to the Hebrews: “The word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.” Nowhere in his teaching does Jesus say that wealth is inherently evil. But it can become a hindrance, an impediment to experiencing the life of the Kingdom that results from following Christ. Jesus has seen into the heart of this man and knows what he needs to do in order to become a disciple and discover true fulfillment.
The Scripture readings for liturgy this Sunday present a challenge to all of us. They invite us to ask ourselves: What are those things that I treasure the most? Do these treasures help me to live my faith in Christ more fully, or do they get in the way of that? Do they enable me to be a more just, loving and generous person, or not?
It may involve the intensity with which we strive after money and the ways in which we make use of our financial resources. Am I driven to accumulate more and more? Do I include the poor in the ways in which I use what has been given to me?
The treasure we hold on to maybe something other than material wealth. Perhaps it is an excessive worry about our reputations. The treasure may be our time, something in very short supply for many people. Am I so possessive of my time that I fail to take the time to share myself with people who need me? Maybe the treasure we hold on to is our anger and resentment toward others. A strange-sounding treasure indeed, but one that we can cling to and enjoy even though it can imprison us.
Jesus promises us that when we renounce the “treasures” that get in the way of following him we receive rich blessings that come in their place. Generous, loving people discover that truth over and over again in their lives. We are invited to pattern our lives on the One who gave himself completely on the cross – the same One who gives himself to us in the Eucharist. May we be given the grace to put aside those things that hinder us from following Jesus. And may we discover the bountiful life that comes from walking with the Lord.
Rev. Robin Ryan, CP
Associate Professor of Systematic Theology