Je­sus and the rich man

Manila Bulletin - - Editorial - MARK 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.”

RE­FLEC­TION AN IN­VI­TA­TION TO “MAX­I­MUM LOVE.” The young man who has “many pos­ses­sions” thinks he is blest and so en­thu­si­as­ti­cally ap­proaches Je­sus, ask­ing what he must do to gain eter­nal life. He hopes per­haps to get an af­fir­ma­tion that, blessed by God, he need not do ex­tra­or­di­nary things be­cause he has al­ready fol­lowed the Ten Com­mand­ments from child­hood. What he hears from Je­sus is a “shocker”: he is in­vited to sell his pos­ses­sions, give to the poor, and fol­low Je­sus.

Je­sus does not ask this of ev­ery fol­lower. It is be­cause, look­ing at the earnest young man, Je­sus “loved him.” Love for him makes Je­sus re­veal to him the se­cret of the King­dom, the key to true joy and last­ing peace. So Je­sus asks him to make a rad­i­cal choice to love, one that does not know of ac­com­mo­da­tion and com­pro­mise. The young man, how­ever, fails to mea­sure up to the great­est chal­lenge of his life. His wealth, in­stead of be­ing a bless­ing, be­comes a stum­bling block to his gain­ing eter­nal life.

Je­sus has been clear about dis­ci­ple­ship from the be­gin­ning: it is a dy­ing to self, a car­ry­ing of the cross af­ter Je­sus. Sal­va­tion is not “cheap grace.” Eter­nal life is not gained the easy way. The young man does not steal be­cause he has more than enough. Com­pared to the less for­tu­nate, he has all the rea­sons to fol­low the com­mand­ments be­cause he “owes” it to God for bless­ing him. But the case of give-and-take is be­side the is­sue. It is rather the choice be­tween the King­dom of God and money. “No ser­vant can serve two masters,” Je­sus says. “You can­not serve God and mam­mon” (Lk 16:13). Once money be­comes the most im­por­tant thing, the per­son is al­ready wor­ship­ping it as his “god.”

In the story of the young man, Je­sus de­fines dis­ci­ple­ship not as a masochis­tic scorn for ma­te­rial goods but as a life of “max­i­mum love.” The “cul­ture” of the King­dom, re­vealed by this dis­ci­ple­ship, has much to say to a world be­dev­iled by ma­te­ri­al­ism. Riches sig­nify so many things: proud self-suf­fi­ciency, the supremacy of the law of profit over that of moral­ity, the ut­ter inequal­ity in the use of the earth’s goods, the search for plea­sure and van­ity.

But all these are empty, all van­ity! True joy can come only with love that con­tin­u­ally gives more, even to the max.

SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2018,” ST. PAULS Philip­pines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: books@stpauls.ph; Web­site: http://www.stpauls.ph.

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