A reading from the gospel according to Mark 10:17-27
17 As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
18 Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.
19 You know the commandments: You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother.”
20 He replied and said to him, “Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.”
21 Jesus, looking at him, 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.”
22 At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”
24 The disciples were amazed at his words. So Jesus again said to them in reply, “Children,
how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!
25 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.”
26 They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves, “Then who can be saved?”
27 Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.”
Reflection: Being good
Good News: All things are possible for God.
Many people would relate to the rich young man in our gospel reading above. They think they are already good because they don’t do any evil thing. Yet, Jesus clearly and emphatically says that no one is really and absolutely good except God. Because of our sins, all of us fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
We commit two kinds of sin: the sin of commission and the sin of omission. While we may not have committed murder, adultery or any crime, we must have certainly omitted doing something good for God and for other people. While it is a psychological necessity to have a healthy self-esteem (feeling good about ourselves and deserving of the respect of others), it is also a Christian virtue to humble ourselves and accept that we have a lot of shortcomings especially in the area of the loving the less fortunate people. How many of us literally sold something to give it to the poor? What have we done to uplift the life of the poor? This is exactly what Jesus was telling the rich young man.
The rich young man, however, cannot let go of his possession. He might be thinking like many rich people do, “I worked hard for this. Why should I just give away to those lazy people out there?” Indeed, some people value their possessions so much as to risk losing sight of eternal life! That is why Jesus asks us in Mark 8:36, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, but lose his soul?”
Because our sins are many and great, it is indeed impossible for us to enter heaven. Who then can be saved? The answer is in John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” God is our good father. He loves us though we fall short of loving Him back. He understands our weaknesses and He is ever ready to forgive our wickedness. In Him alone are we able to enter heaven. Because of His mercy and grace, entering heaven is possible.
See also: Matthew 19:16-22 Reflection
Pointers for Further Reflection / Sermon Outline
1. The goodness of God versus the goodness of man
2. Can man do something good to enter heaven? What does it take to enter heaven?
3. Review the ten commandments and the two greatest commandments.
4. Contrast material versus spiritual possession. Does material possession hinder us from following Jesus?
5. Do you really believe that nothing is impossible with God? How do we apply this belief in our daily life?
Questions for Discussion / Meditation
If you were given the chance to meet Jesus face to face, what question would you ask Him? Remember that your question will reveal your character.