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. (Mk 10:17-22)
External vs. Internal
That would be one of the ways to summarize the Gospel today.
Many of us are good — perhaps, even, expert — at mastering the externals of our faith. We’ve got the Ten Commandments down pat. We can name you chapter and verse of the scriptures. We know the Precepts of the Church. We would get an A+ on any religion exam given to us, even if it were a surprise test.
Just like the young man in today’s Gospel.
We have the externals down pat just as he did. “Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.”
Ah. But then, there is the internal. The raison d’etre of our lives. The very core of who we are and what we are all about.
“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.”
We have convinced ourselves from a very young age that we need to take care of ourselves. We need to accumulate riches and possessions because, to a great extent, they define us. Our possessions become more important than many things in our lives. Many times, they become more important than our relationship with God.
Jesus challenged that presumption in the young man in today’s Gospel. Jesus knew that the young man had many possessions and that they had taken a hold of him. Jesus wanted the young man to free himself of that awful hold.
The question prevails: what has a hold on us? Is it our possessions, wealth, power, influence, or fame? If so, we are in desperate need ourselves.
FAITH ACTION: Do you use your possessions for yourself, for your own creature comforts, or to gain even more possessions? Can you let go and follow Jesus more devotedly this day?