Mark 10:17-27 Reflection: The Rich and the Kingdom of God

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 men it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.”

Reflection: Attachment to worldly treasure

The man in our gospel reading is rich for he had many possessions but he is insecure and therefore unhappy. He claims to follow all the commandments. Yet, in his heart, he is not sure whether he is going to be saved. He must have felt something is lacking. So, when he heard about Jesus passing by, he ran up to him and in all humility, he asked what he needs to do to gain eternal life.

Jesus told the man to the effect that it is not enough to follow all the commandments. It is important that he empty himself and serve the poor. The rich man cannot do this so he went home sad.

You cannot serve two masters, Jesus says in Matthew 6:24. The rich man wanted to have eternal life but he cannot afford to let go of his possessions. Between eternal life and worldly possessions, he chose the latter. Clearly, it is his attachment to wealth that prevented him from having real happiness and from gaining eternal life.

It is God’s design for all of us to have eternal life with Him. There is also no question that He wants everyone to be satisfied and happy. Yet because of our choices, we have become unhappy and insecure. Many of us choose worldly possessions rather than God who is the real source of happiness. May we learn to let go of everything in order to gain everything. That is the paradox of a happy and secure life.

*****

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.

Gospel Reading and Reflection
Gospel Reading and Reflection

One comment

  1. Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Mat 6:21) Our things only give us a short term, temporary joy, but in Jesus Christ and with Christ we have eternal joy and security!! Thanks for Sharing💕

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