Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gospel: Mark 10: 17-30
Question to Jesus: What must I do to inherit eternal life?
Response: Give away what you have, come follow me.”
This is one of those Gospel stories that leaves us with an uncomfortable feeling. Ugh. What does “give away what you have,” mean exactly? If material poverty is a requirement for discipleship, then, I would venture to say, many of us do not qualify.
It seems like an odd directive coming from Jesus, who seemed from the Gospel stories, to enjoy the company, (and was the often beneficiary) of some rather well-heeled people. So, is it possible that he was pointing to something deeper in the rich man than the bulge of his pockets? Could it be that Jesus was not so much critiquing the rich man’s wealth but rather affirming in the rich man, his deep longing for more than what could be satisfied by his material wealth?
Perhaps what Jesus is illuminating here is the longing or discontent that often causes us discomfort and unease. Could it be that this same longing or discontent is what Jesus is naming as the requirement for discipleship? Is it possible that what Jesus is speaking about here is the longing for the “more” who is God?
I often think the Creator, in bringing us forth into life, embedded a “longing chip” in each one of us. It functions to remind us that we are all wired for the more who is God. The Creator’s “chip” activates longing, even in the midst of the much we have, as reminder that we are always being drawn to the more who is God.
Yes, it is possible to ignore the longing and even dull it by filling up our lives and pockets with short-term satisfactions. Which one of us hasn’t done so with everything from retail therapy, overwork, chemical dependency, and other avoidances?
The Gospel today invites us to follow our longing for God. If we can do so, we are promised a lifetime of “more.”
Sr. Arlene Flaherty, OP