There is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for Jesus’ sake, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. Mark 10:29-30
in your Son you call not the righteous
but sinners to repentance: draw us away
from the easy road that leads to destruction,
and guide us into paths that lead to life
abundant, that in seeking your truth, and
obeying your will, we may know the joy of
being a disciple of Jesus our Saviour; who
lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.
- Job 23:1-9, 16-17
- Psalm 22:1-15
- Hebrews 4:12-16
- Mark 10:17-31
- Job 38:1-7, (34-41)
- Psalm 104:1-10, 26
- Hebrews 5:1-10
- Mark 10:(32-34) 35-45
A Thought to Ponder
Pentecost 20 – Mark 10:17-31
Jesus, looking at the rich young man, loved him and said to him, “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.” At that statement, his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
“ … there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age …”
The young rich man in today’s Gospel is one of the most sympathetic characters in the Jesus story. Clearly, Jesus’ teachings and healings have touched something in him, but his enthusiasm outdistances his commitment. Assuring Jesus he has kept the “you shall NOTS” of the Law, Jesus confronts the rich young man with the “you SHALLS” of the reign of God: “Go and sell what you have and give it to the poor.”
And, as Mark describes it, the man’s face fell and “he went away sad.” He can’t bring himself to do it. His faith is not strong enough to give up the treasure he possesses for the “treasure in heaven.” The young man walks away, sad certainly, and perhaps feeling even somewhat disillusioned that his hero Jesus is not what he thought and hoped he would be.
Then Jesus, speaking to his disciples, turns another Jewish belief upside down. Popular Jewish morality was simple: prosperity was a sign that one had found favour with God. There was a definite “respectability” to being perceived as wealthy and rich (how little things have changed). Great wealth, Jesus points out, is actually a hindrance to heaven: Rich people tend to look at things in terms of price, of value, of the “bottom line.” Jesus preaches detachmentfrom things in order to become completely attached to the life and love of God.
Throughout the Gospel, Jesus points to the inadequacy of viewing religion as a series of codes and laws. The young man was no different than his contemporaries in seeing one’s relationship with God as based on a series of negatives (“you shall not”). Discipleship is not based on NOT doing and avoiding but on DOING and acting in the love of God. Jesus calls us not to follow a code of conduct but, rather, to embrace the Spirit that gives meaning and purpose to the great commandment.
To be a person of faith is not simply a matter of avoiding what is bad (“you shall NOT”) but the much harder work of seeking out and embracing what is of God: mercy, justice, compassion, reconciliation (“you SHALL”).
Today’s Gospel challenges us to consider how we use wealth and the power it has in our lives. Wealth should enable us to live life to the fullest; but too often what we have can weigh us down, preventing us from moving on with our lives — the prosperity that should enable our journey becomes more important than the journey itself.
Wealth is seductive: what we consume can consume us – we can be swallowed up in our pursuit of wealth, prestige and power, becoming immune to the joy of the human experience. Whatever we possess that inhibits us from embracing the love of God to the fullest is a curse, not a blessing.
Jesus asks everything of us as the cost of being his disciple — but Jesus asks only what we have, not what we don’t have. Each one of us possesses talents and resources, skills and assets that we have been given by God for the work of making the kingdom of God a reality in the here and now.
Our baptism into the life of Christ calls us to take on his commitment to selfless service to others: to put everything we have and are at the service of our sisters and brothers in need. To be the disciple of Christ we seek to become means a reordering of our priorities, a restructuring of our days to realise Christ’s call to service.
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You can read the Pew Sheet herePentecost-20-B