Sunday Readings: Wisdom 7.7-11, Hebrews 4.12-13; Mark 10.17-27
A man ran up and knelt down in front Jesus, saying, “Good Teacher, what must I do to receive eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You must know the commandments…” “Teacher, ever since I was a child, I have obeyed all these commandments.” Jesus looked at the man and loved him, saying, “You need to do only one thing more. Go and sell what you have and give to the poor. You will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” – Mark 10.17-21
In his lifetime, Jesus was an itinerant preacher, who possessed no belongings and owned no home. Jesus sent his disciples out in the same way — with no food, money, bags, or second tunic. Are all of Jesus’ followers to live this way? In the 40 years between Jesus’ public ministry and Mark’s writing of the first gospel, Christian communities faced questions Jesus did not answer. Not surprisingly, they held conflicting views as they tried to live Jesus’ teachings and follow his example.
Still today, the commandments offer a common standard of goodness for Jews and Christians. Some among the first Christians sold their possessions and lived a community life (Acts 2.45), and some do today. Jesus’ first disciples imitated Jesus’ itinerant lifestyle. They depended on the hospitality of settled, propertied Christians for food and shelter in the towns where they preached.
The young man chooses not to do “one thing more.” But we don’t know how the rich young man lives the rest of his life. The gospel ends with a promise that everything is possible with God. All of us have the work of identifying how we are rich and how we are poor, how and in whom we want to invest our money and ourselves. All of us live within the mystery of God’s love in which the next person we meet may change our lives forever.
How are you rich? How are you poor? How do the needs of people who are poor affect your lifestyle?