October 10, 2021 — Twenty-Eighth Sunday In Ordinary Time
WIS 7:7-11; PS 90:12-13, 14-15, 16-17; HEB 4:12-13; MK 10:17-30 OR 10:17-27
In our Gospel today we hear the story of a man who ran up to Jesus and asked Him what he must do to reach eternal life.
Jesus said, “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.”
It says the man went away sad because he had much.
We might cringe when we hear this story because it is sad — this man was so close to becoming an active disciple of Jesus, but instead turned away. We also might cringe because it could be deeply applicable to our lives.
Jesus states that “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.”
One of the metaphors for the “eye of a needle” was a tight passageway into Jerusalem that people had to enter to get into the city. In order for their camels to pass through, they had to remove whatever the camel was carrying, only then, could they enter.
If we look at our own lives, we can most likely think of something that we tightly carry with us. Maybe it is possessions — material goods or money — like Jesus references in our Gospel. Or maybe it is something less material — like status, pride, or control. As we go through life, it can be hard not to cling tightly to things of the world.
But what will happen when we reach the gate of heaven? All of our “stuff” won’t fit into the narrow gate.
Jesus doesn’t want our stuff — our job promotions, our designer house, or our bank account. He just wants us. So, we need to be willing to strip those things from our lives in order to reach Him.
Later in our Gospel, Jesus’ disciples asked a question we all might be thinking, “Then who can be saved?” How can anyone make it to heaven if we all are attached to things in everyday life that we put in front of Him?
Jesus tells us, “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.” It is only through Him that we will reach eternal life.
Our First Reading reminds us that through prayer, we will gain the virtues to persevere through this life — “I prayed, and prudence was given me; I pleaded, and the spirit of wisdom came to me.” If we ask, we shall receive. And if we remain close to Jesus, He will show us the way.
It is also through opportunity. As our Second Reading states, “everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him.” Jesus knows exactly what we struggle with, and He gives us countless opportunities in life to choose Him, to overcome our attachments, and surrender.
It could be a tragic life event, a rough week, an unexpected expense that depletes our savings, or the loss of material goods. These moments are opportunities that Jesus allows in our lives for our sanctification. It is our job not to waste those moments.
We can also create opportunities throughout our day to help ourselves detach from whatever is holding us back from Jesus. Jesus’ recommendation to this man was to sell all his possessions and give them to the poor. While He may not be calling us to do that, we can still give to the point where it makes us uncomfortable. And it is in that discomfort that we put more trust in Christ that helps us to grow closer to Jesus, that we turn and follow Him more intentionally.
Recall that Jesus already knew the life of this man in our Gospel, and it said that He “loved him.” No matter where we are on our journey as disciples, know that Jesus knows everything about us and still radically loves us. There is nothing we could do to make Him love us more or less. However, there is much we can do to love Him more.
May we consider what it is that is holding us back from radically loving Jesus in return. Pray for the grace to overcome, don’t pass by the opportunities to surrender, and create moments to detach. It might seem difficult, but the outcome will be more than we could have ever imagined — peace on earth and treasure in heaven.