The rich man who comes to ask Jesus what he should do to inherit eternal life is a good man, sincere in his asking. Mark’s gospel is alone in saying that Jesus looked on him and loved him. Out of love, not as judgment, Jesus offers him an open door to life: sell all you own and give it to the poor. Our culture bombards us with the message that we will find life by consuming. Our assemblies counter this message with the invitation to find life by divesting for the sake of the other.
Readings and Psalm
- Amos 5:6-7, 10-15
Turn from injustice to the poor, that you may live
- Psalm 90:12-17
So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom. (Ps. 90:12)
- Hebrews 4:12-16
Approach the throne of grace with boldness
- Mark 10:17-31
Teaching on wealth and reward
Fat Camels and Narrow Needles: Only Possible for God
A rich man approaches Jesus and asks how to inherit eternal life. Jesus tells him to sell what he owns, give the money to the poor, and follow. Jesus will accept nothing less than our very selves. Like the rich man, we too are left defenseless and grieving by Jesus’ radical call to leave behind and give away what we count on for our own security. He wants us, and therefore also wants the things that keep us from him; he gazes upon us in love, even as he calls us to leave behind our false sources of security. How hard it is for us camels to pass through the eye of the needle! We too grieve at the impossibility. It is in fact impossible for us, yet more than possible for God to make it so. For we have a “great high priest who has passed through the heavens, the Son of God,” who is both able to sympathize with our great weakness but also to provide mercy and help. While eternal life on the other side of the needle is a free gift that only God can give, it is a gift that claims the entirety of our lives and therefore reshapes our stewardship of whatever earthly goods we do have. For first and foremost we are called to follow the Christ who gazes upon us in love. Since we are his, following him we will enter through the eye of the needle, leaving behind what cannot fit through with us. In doing so we are promised that we will gain everything: a hundredfold more in this life in a new community under the Cross, “and in the age to come eternal life” (Mark 10:30).