Tag Archives: Mark 10.21

Gospel Reflection for October 14, 2018, 28th Sunday Ordinary Time

9 Oct

Sunday Readings: Wisdom 7.7-11; Hebrews 4.12-13; Mark 10.17-27

“You need do only one thing more.”  – Mark 10.21

The young man in Sunday’s gospel wants to know what he can do to receive eternal life. Jesus names six of the ten commandments–no to killing, adultery, stealing, giving false witness, and cheating, and yes to honoring one’s parents. The young man claims he has kept the commandments since he was a child. This is when Jesus tells him, “You need do only one thing more.” So, what is it, the one thing more?

Jesus’ answers, “Sell your possessions and give the money to the poor.” This is the way to build treasure in heaven. What could be more opposite American wisdom, which tells us to invest in Wall Street expertise and let wealth managers build us a happy retirement? Wouldn’t doing as Jesus’ says literally make us one of the poor? In a moneyed society like ours, it is irresponsible not to take care of one’s self and family. Repeated advertisements say so.

What if Jesus is pointing out that we are all human beings together here on Earth? We are separate individuals but from day one we can’t live without care from others. We can’t thrive without solidarity with one another, without bonds among us. Not all of us get face cards in the hands life deals us.

Jesus is suggesting that our possessions may possess us rather than the well-being of family, neighbors, friends, employees, coworkers. As committed Christians we are brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ and one another and of those who need a living wage, who don’t speak English, who need food for their kids on the weekend, who need medication for chronic diseases, whose skin color scares us? The Second Vatican Council said a startling thing. We are not saved as individuals but through the bonds among us that form us into a people (Constitution on the Church 9). Jesus challenges us to build a community that love holds together.

What is “one thing more” you want to commit to do?


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Stuff Barrier

19 Feb
Photo via Flickr user Jed Sullivan

Photo via Flickr user Jed Sullivan

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. –Mark 10:21

I find stickers in my back pocket. Drum sticks in the middle of the kitchen floor. A little stuffed giraffe propped up in the corner of the couch. A figurine, affectionately named Gordon, in my shoe. These sacred sprinklings are welcome signs of my son’s presence. Joyful, silly, unexpected interruptions in my adult life that fourteen months in, still feel new. These days will not last forever.

At times, when I see one of these objects standing on its own, I cry. They are infused with Simon’s affection, so now I find they are meaningful to me. I adore them because he has chosen them to be special objects in his life.

In my life, I have tried to travel lightly and not cling to things. I try to be a conscientious shopper and an active purger. So this emotional, already nostalgic attachment to a few of Simon’s things has been a surprise to me. This Lent, I’m thinking about the rich man. I’m thinking about my possessions.

We see in the rich man’s grief that he is clinging to his possessions. He doesn’t want to let them go. Jesus sees rightly that they are what is truly holding him back from following Jesus, knowing Jesus. Instead of owning his possessions, his possessions own him. So often, people who have too much stuff are the ones who struggle to give that stuff up.

I asked high schoolers what they would save in a house fire. A writing and sketching journal. A blanket from childhood. A cello. A phone, because on it she has voicemails saved of important voices in her life. These objects have been infused with meaning over time. And I don’t think they pull these youth further from God. In fact, I’d argue these object bring them closer to God.

It is a good Lenten practice to take inventory of our stuff. Stuff is not inherently bad. Some of it, over time and due to love, have become so infused with meaning that they can invite us into thin spaces of gratitude. It’s the stuff that takes us away from God, the stuff that owns us, the stuff that distracts us and keeps us focused on this world that we need to worry about. Are there possessions that are holding us back from following Jesus to the cross?

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