Wisdom 7:7-11, Hebrews 4:12-13, Mark 10:17-30
Today, the world is full of different ideologies, philosophies, beliefs and modes of living. Many people have been influenced by the current trends to the extent that many seem to lose hope that God truly exists.
Many of us are Christians but within this circle of believers, we hardly find people who are more concerned about the spiritual life. Today we pay much more attention to material possessions than our souls. Many Christians are so attached to their wealth or material possessions that they think that life without them looks bleak.
We are gradually losing faith. Therefore, we are forgetting the One Thing that remains in our journey of salvation.
We cannot do without God. So, we have to detach ourselves from the love, the quest and desire for earthly riches and attach so closely and united to God that we shall put Him first all we do and nothing shall come in between. It is a decision to sacrifice anything that will take us away from God.
Therefore, if we as Christians cannot be able to sacrifice anything we have for the sake of the salvation of souls, then we still have a long way to go. Just like Jesus tells the Man who meets Him the One thing that remains.
We also have to know that despite our earthly struggle, there is One thing that remains. It is the decision to go against our will sometimes because of God. Despite our earthly possession, we have to be ready and able to sacrifice whatever that we possess and use them to save lives. Nothing should come in between this.
Our journey today begins from the gospel and we have to take it bit by bit.
In the Journey of Salvation.
So, Mark begins His gospel with “As Jesus started on his way”. This has a theological undertone.
To understand the gospel of today, we have to know that Jesus is already on His journey to Jerusalem where He will offer Himself for the salvation of mankind.
On this journey of salvation, Jesus gradually was teaching His disciples the way of discipleship. Therefore whatever happens along this way, is a way to teach us what we shall do if we are truly the disciples of Jesus. These are the requirements to belong to the Way; just as the disciples of the Lord are on the Way.
So, like last Sunday, Jesus teaches us that on this journey of salvation, we shall not allow anything to come in between. Jesus advises that if anything will lead us to sin, we shall cut it off.
In today’s gospel, Jesus teaches that on this journey of salvation, there is one thing that remains. One thing that remains is to truly decide that God is the first in our lives. Therefore, we have to be able to detach from whatever and whoever will deprive us of eternal life and a relationship with God.
Though today what we normally do is the opposite. Instead of putting God first, we don’t even remember Him, not to talk of putting Him first. Instead of living a life of detachment, we instead attach ourselves to things of the world.
We even give them a leading place in our lives, in essence, making God secondary while what we have becomes the primary. We need to have a rethink. One thing that remains is the decision to put God first in everything that we do.
Jesus and the Man who Approaches Him.
So, as Jesus begins the journey, A man runs up to Him, kneels before him and asks him, ‘Good master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’
This greeting, this reverential attitude typically explains the type of person this man is. How he greets Jesus shows He has high regard for Jesus.
He does not only greet Him well but He kneels before Him. This is a sign of reverence. I applaud Him for the question.
First of all, Mark tells us that this man is a man of great wealth. But despite His wealth, He shows how humble He is by falling and kneeling before Jesus.
How many of us who are rich today can still humble ourselves before the Lord’s presence. How many Christians also think about eternal life?
In essence, how many people today, desire to live for God only? The pointer is that we seem to be more interested in what we shall acquire. Our interest is more of what we shall gain rather than salvation of souls.
No one has the time to think about his or her soul again. So, first of all, we applaud this man for his attitudes and questions.
Keeping the Commandments.
Jesus enlists the commandments to the man. He says You know the commandments: You must not kill; You must not commit adultery, You must not steal, You must not bring false witness; You must not defraud; Honour your father and mother.’ And he said to him, ‘Master, I have kept all these from my earliest days.’ one would then ask, why did Jesus list the commandments first? Does it mean that keeping the commandments also helps us in our journey of salvation?
The point here is that the Jews believed that the man who kept the law would live (Deut 30:15-16). This is why people like the Pharisees hold strictly to the laws, for the jew, the law is the secret of life and the secret of blessings. So Jesus begins there.
The young man answered that From boyhood he had kept all the commandments
This probably refers to the age of thirteen, when every Jewish boy became bar mi~wah (“son of the commandment”; (Luke 2:42).
Mark of course tells us that Jesus responds with love. Which shows that Jesus was happy with Him. So, the first point here is that in our journey of salvation, we shall be ready to keep to His words and avoid sin. We shall relate with God and cordially relate with others. This serves as the reason Jesus puts up such a reply.
The One Thing that Remains.
After the man replies that He has kept all the commandments, Jesus looks steadily at him and said, ‘There is one thing you lack”.
“Go and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ But his face falls at these words and he goes away sad, for he is a man of great wealth”.
1. Let us look critically at the reply again. First of all, This man has fulfilled every requirement. Then there was a lack. Jesus then reminds him of the lack and directs him on what to do.
The first point here is that, in our journey of salvation, there is the need to observe our loopholes, our falling points, our shortcomings, what we have not done well and what we are not doing well.
Here, Jesus is telling us that we have to cover up. In the case of the man, Jesus gave him a choice, to use what he has to save the poor. He felt sad and left.
So, we have to ask ourselves “What is still lacking in our lives, can we make an effort towards them?
2. The man came to Jesus for eternal life and left the presence of Jesus because of wealth. In essence, what He has is more important than the presence of Jesus.
In the same way, what is more, important today for many of us is not God. What is important is not how to go closer to Him. What is important to us today is how to make millions of money, build houses, and become the talking point of the town. Even in our mass requests, no one prays for eternal life.
We believe we still have years to live. Today, many can go to any extent to make money. They can travel from city to city to make money but would not make a single effort to be in the Lord’s presence. Many of us today now see time with God as a waste of time.
The question here today is “what have we replaced God with? What has taken the place of God in our lives? What is that thing that is keeping us from the Lord’s presence? The presence of the Lord should give us joy and not sadness.
3. The one thing that prevented this young man from having eternal life was the security of his wealth. He is more interested in His wealth than He is interested in God. What is preventing us from coming to God? What is preventing us from coming to confession?
Also, what is preventing us from receiving Jesus in the holy communion? That thing that prevents us from God is what we desire more than God. If we desire God, most, nothing shall come in between.
4. Jesus gives him two directives: first is to sell all he had, and give them to the poor. These commands led up to the final and conclusive one: “Come, follow me.”
Here, Jesus is not against riches but Jesus is revealing to us that one thing that remains. Until we begin to do it, we have not started.
The one thing that remains is a life of total surrender to God. This is a life where God is truly the shepherd. It is a life when you may decide not to do something good but you do it anyway because of God.
It is a life when your body may be tempting you to sin but you said no because of God. In this life, God is everything. Therefore, in our struggles in life and journey to salvation, one thing remains; we have to detach to attach ourselves to God alone.
In essence, The only way to ‘life’ is through the narrow gate of full surrender, and through that gate, we may take, not what we want, but only what God wants.
Attachment to God should come before attachment to anyone. Attachment to God is what we shall seek more than attachment to material things. Obedience to God brings joy.
5. We must be willing to listen to the word of God. We must be willing to listen to the words of Jesus. He knows more than we know. Jesus must have seen that what could hinder this man will be his wealth. He thus advises him on what he will do, but he left sad.
Let us always cherish the word of God. Jesus is wisdom par excellence, by listening to Him we increase in wisdom. In the scripture, everyone who listens to Him marvels at His wisdom.
The author of the first reading indicates how he esteemed wisdom more than riches, sceptres and thrones and loved wisdom more than health or beauty, The first reading says that in the company of wisdom all good things came to him.
The author of the second reading also appraises the power of the word of God by saying that it is alive and active: and cuts like any double-edged sword but more finely. Therefore, we should not live without God’s word. The word of God is wisdom itself.
I.In the gospel after the man left, Jesus tells His disciples How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God.
The disciples were astounded by these words, but Jesus insisted that It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
This does not mean that the kingdom of God is not for rich people nor the kingdom of God is only for poor people. Jesus is revealing to us that we make it impossible when we are deeply attached to material things.
It is impossible when we are attached to what we want to have than obeying Him. The man prefers disobeying Jesus to losing His wealth.
In essence, Jesus is letting us know that nothing should be so big to sacrifice when it comes to our relationship with Him.
So, this is one thing that remains in our lives. Until we begin to live a life of detachment, from material acquisition to more attachment to God, we will continue to make mistakes.
Heaven is for those who are willing to sacrifice anything even their lives for the sake of the gospel. Therefore, what is that thing that is still preventing us from going to God, can we sacrifice it?
2. After this encounter, the apostles were astonished and said to one another ‘who can be saved?’ Jesus gazed at them. ‘For men’ he said ‘it is impossible, but not for God: because everything is possible for God.’
Now Jesus points to the solution. His answer makes clear that salvation is the work of God. Apart from the grace of God, no man can enter God’s kingdom.
Humanly speaking, no one can be saved. We are saved by the grace of God. This is the reason we have to seek His face every day. We are nothing without His grace.
3. Jesus promises His disciples that No one who forsakes home, loved ones, or lands for His sake and the gospels will fail (1) to receive back in his life a hundredfold what he has lost; (2) to suffer persecutions (only Mark includes this); and (3) to have eternal life in the age to come.
There he finds a multiplication of relationships, often closer and more spiritually meaningful than blood ties. The point here is that God takes nothing away from a man without restoring it to him in a new and glorious form.
As Mark points out, there will be persecutions. It is through these trials and persecutions that we must develop and flourish. In essence, everything that we pass through in this life prepares us for the life to come.
4. We have to know that material things are not evil in themselves. The point is that they become a blessing if we use them to help the poor and those in need. But they become a curse when we allow them to possess our hearts to the extent that we can do anything to acquire them even if it means cheating on our faith.
Wealth becomes a curse when it takes the place of God in our lives. Therefore, we have to detach our hearts from everything that takes the place of God in our lives. We have to be free from any form of enslavement, be it from friends, families, material things, appearance etc.
5. Finally, as we pursue our quest for a better life, do not forget that there is one thing that remains, we have to detach to attach to God.
There are higher values in life that we shall not also neglect or sacrifice for the sake of our souls. As you make an effort to live in the best world, do not forget that the soul also needs attention.
Therefore, the one thing that remains in our journey of salvation is the willingness to attach totally to God, to the extent that nothing and no one can come in between.
Let us not exclude God totally from our lives. We have to realise that only in God can we find true fulfilment and happiness.
May God have mercy on us and give us the grace to live only for Him and with Him. Happy Sunday