Scripture: Mark 10:17-31
Key verse: (21) “Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, ‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’”
Reflection: What are the questions of your life? “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” That’s the question posed to Jesus. A Christian response might be, “Confess your sin, accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, and you will be saved.” The problem with this traditional Christian response is it’s not what Jesus says. Rather, Jesus cites the commandments — sort of. He only quotes the commands related to loving neighbors. The man responds, “Lived them my whole life.” Jesus loves him for this. Some suggest Jesus is saying, “Bless your heart,” in all its Southern complexity. Perhaps. I’d like to believe Jesus simply loved him for trying to do the right thing. Then we encounter the real problem, what Jesus did say: “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” What are we to do with this? We can ignore the answer. Many Christians through the ages have done just that. But if we do, we will surely miss out on the life Christ calls us to live. Jesus’ answer echoes what he said at the end of chapter 8 — If you want to save your life, lose it. Give it away.
In his book, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, Franciscan Monk Richard Rohr, writes, “Unless and until you give your life away to others, you do not seem to have it yourself and any deep level.” It’s the irony of emptying yourself to really find yourself. Perhaps that’s what Jesus was saying to the man who asked him what he had to do to inherit life. Let it go. Perhaps he needed to let that question go. How he gets eternal life is just not that important, because ultimately life really isn’t about him. As long as that’s his question, he will never get beyond himself. To find life, he must let that self-interest go.
Letting go is only half of the call. Jesus also calls the man to follow him. Jesus says, “Give away what has defined your life and you will find what life is really all about. Give it away and discover the treasure of heaven. Give it away and come and follow me.” Following Jesus is not about self-interest. It’s about loving God with all we are and loving our neighbor as ourselves. That all begins when we begin to give our lives to others.
How did the man respond? Mark tells us he went away sad, for he had great possessions. Most conclude he didn’t take Jesus up on the offer. Perhaps he might have been sad because he had some really cool stuff he was really going to miss. Maybe he went to take inventory. How do we respond? May we at least set out to take inventory.
Prayer: “The Prayer of Francis”
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.
Author: Joe Clifford
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].