Is It Love or Voluntary Poverty?

Hopefully both.

There’s a nifty little drama in this Sunday’s Gospel. I’ve had the rare chance to break this open twice this week. It will be interesting to see how our parish’s homilists treat it:

As he 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?” Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 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.'”He replied and said to him, “Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.”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.” At that statement his 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 those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 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! 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.” They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.”

Peter began to say to him, “We have given up everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come. But many that are first will be last, and (the) last will be first.”

The Lectionary does not include Mark 10:31, that red-highlighted text at the end. I found that curious.

What struck me about this passage is Christ’s call to go beyond the printed orthodoxy, the safe, tried, and true. For us believers, for the elder sons and daughters, we protest we have done everything asked of us, toed well within the lines.

Jesus actually gives us two examples to follow. We might protest at the noticeable one: sell what we have and give to the poor. Why, the non-American capitalists might well take over the world! Yet we also fail to imitate Christ in the bold printed way. Do we look at those lacking, those lacking even one thing, look at them with love, and make the invitation?

Of course, failing at love, we could give away all we own.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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