As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’” He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”
Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news,who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
Today’s Gospel passage from Mark which begins with one of those “Big Life Questions.” The young person who drops to his knees in front of Jesus is trying to figure out the requirements for earning, achieving, winning, gaining, even manipulating one’s way into eternal life. Jesus simply asks this young person to reflect on his religious tradition. And after the young man recites what the law prescribes, Jesus gives him the “Big Answer.”
Eternal life is not a prize to be won through specific deeds or prescribed prayers and actions. Rather, eternal life is a matter of relationship – relationship with God, as well as the life-giving relationships we have with one another throughout our journey of life. The young person shakes his head and walks away sad, still hanging on to his questions and insecurities. And of course similar “Big Life Questions” and our search for similar “Big Life Answers” have engaged millions of sinners and saints down through the centuries—all interesting folks just like us.
As with the young man in Mark’s Gospel, so Jesus looks at each person with great love and affection. And he simply says, “Come, follow me.” Just this week, this month of October 2012, can we open our hearts to receive the overwhelming personal invitation that Jesus offers? And, in the strength of that loving invitation, can we take the challenging step of handing over our lives to our God, of writing that blank check—”Here I am, Lord, send me!”
—The Jesuit Prayer Team
Lord, we believe that your awareness of our joys, our struggles, and our everyday life is complete. We place our trust in your intimate care for our well-being. You invite us day by day to “Come, follow me.” It doesn’t matter if we feel worthy of your call; it doesn’t matter if we feel close or distant to you. Your heart’s desire is to accompany us from sunrise to sunset. With gratitude we respond, “Here I am, Lord, I come to do your will.”
—The Jesuit Prayer Team