As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.”
“Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”
Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!” This amazed them. But Jesus said again, “Dear children, it is very hard to enter the Kingdom of God.
– Mark 10: 17-24
I have taught this Gospel reading in my Catholic Social Teaching class in regards to materialism. I have always thought how sad it is that the man values his possessions more than Jesus. However, today as my pastor broke the word open and talked about our need for more and more in this world, I experienced a small epiphany. Our world encourages the idea of things. The more things we desire, work for, and attain the happier we will be in this life. If we are not happy it’s because we don’t have the right “stuff” or enough of the “stuff”.
It dawned on me that our world promises us this idea of contentment with materialism yet we are never quite content. If in the time of the rich man the goal was security, riches, and good health, then the rich man would have it all and be satisfied for a lifetime. If that was true WHY did the rich man go to Jesus Christ? If he had all that he needed and wanted in life WHY would he ask Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” WHY would he care about eternal life if he had all he ever wanted and was satisfied? It must be because the materialism, riches, health, and security did not fill that space that can only be filled by God. That space that is left there opened by God. That place that desires that we love, willing the good of the other. That we sell what we have, give it to the poor and then truly follow Jesus Christ.
Our world promises us that we don’t need anything but control, status, financial security, and things to make us happy. That when we reach that point in life of having it all we will be content. Our world can only promise us things of this world. God promises us something counter cultural. God promises if we leave it all behind, give it all away, open our lives up to his will, and live for others then we will have eternal happiness.
Don’t fall for the lies of this world. Like the rich man there is a place in every human soul that desires God above all things. God will point you in a challenging direction that, if followed, will change your entire life. Are you going to ask God, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Ask, because deep down you know that this is the only way to true joy, contentment, and completion of your life’s purpose.
Copyright 2015 Lori Hadorn-Disselkamp