Sunday, October 10th 2021 | By Rev. Michael P. Hanifin
This week’s readings are very challenging for a culture that suffers from afluenza. For example, in the Gospel this weekend (MK 10:17-30) the story of the wealthy man is told, where he ran up to Jesus and asked Him what he must do to reach eternal life. Jesus responded by recalling the 10 Commandments in the Old Testaments, “You shall not kill, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness, etc.” The man proudly proclaimed that he had observed these commandments from his youth. Jesus looked with love at this man and then challenged him even more, “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.” The Gospel tells us that the man’s face fell, and he went away sad because he had many possessions.
This story might make us cringe because it is sad — this man was so close to turning from just keeping commandments, but to respond in kind to Jesus’ outreach of his love and becoming an active disciple of Jesus and joining his company. Sadly, the man turned away because he was unwilling to abandon all in response to Jesus’ invitation. We also might cringe because this story could deeply apply to us in our lives.
Jesus states that “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God… 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.” One of the metaphors for the “eye of a needle” was a tight passageway into Jerusalem that caravans had to enter to get into the city. For caravans and their camels to pass through the gate or passageway, they had to remove cargo the camels were carrying, only then, could they pass through.
As we reflect upon our own lives, we might likely think of something that is a burden for us that we carry. Maybe it is possessions — material goods or money — like Jesus references in our Gospel. Our possession may very well become something that possesses us, and we just cannot let go of it. Or maybe it is something less material — like our social and professional status, our pride, or our control over every element of our lives.
Jesus doesn’t want or need our stuff — our job promotions, our designer house, our fancy cars, our bank account, or retirement funds. He just wants us. He wants our hearts. Jesus states in the Gospel of Matthew, “But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be” (MT 6:21).
There is a story of a bank located adjacent to a cemetery. The bank had a billboard that was visible from the cemetery grounds that read, “You cannot take it with you, but
you can keep it close.” None of the elements mentioned above can accompany us into eternal life. So, Jesus invites us to strip those things – the burdens that weigh us down – from our lives so that we are free to come and follow him. This invitation might seem
as difficult for us as it did for the wealthy man in the Gospel, but the outcome will be more than we could have ever imagined — peace on earth and treasure in heaven.
The Orange Catholic Foundation will be hosting a free Estate Planning Seminar at Saint Joachim Catholic Church:
• Monday, October 11th from 1:00pm – 2:30pm (English) in Annex A or B • Monday, October 11th from 7:30pm – 9:00pm (Spanish) in Nevin Hall • Monday, October 25th from 1:00pm – 2:30pm (English) in Annex A or B
If you have yet to put your house in order, this seminar will help you get started. As Jesus stated in the Gospels, we know not the day nor the hour for when the Lord will come for us. It is always best to be prepared.