Reflection on Mark 10.17-27

When the man heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

In today’s reading we meet a man who feels that he is called to become a disciple of Christ. He is clearly well-versed in the commandments and Jesus does offer him that special invitation: Follow me. But, this invitation into discipleship comes with a condition attached. Jesus says: You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor

In Paul’s first letter to Timothy we read these words: For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains. And in Matthew’s gospel we hear Jesus’ own words on this subject: No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. The division that is caused by our attempts to amass and hoard wealth pervades every aspect of our society, including our church communities! Pernicious phrases like: Charity begins at home or we need to be ready for that rainy day, frequently trip off our tongues, whilst the open-handed and open-hearted generosity of putting others before ourselves very rarely features! The challenge to us today is clear … are we ready to put the needs of others before our own?

We often speak of God’s call to love and serve, just as Christ loved and served throughout his earthly ministry. But what do those words mean to us? How do we put them into action? Today we are challenged to reconsider what we mean when we say these things. Are we like the rich man whose desire to join the company of Jesus’ disciples is tempered by his unwillingness to let go of the worldly security of many possessions, or are we like the many who have responded by setting self to one side and stepping out in the faith that God will provide that which we really need?

This is not an easy challenge to have to confront. We are hard-wired to put personal and family security before all else. We are trained from an early age to look after number one. We are schooled in a level of fear that drives our greed for more and more financial security. Today we are being invited to reflect upon these earthbound, human-centric attitudes and compare them with Christ’s simple call: Follow me. Are we able to trust in God’s love, take his hand and follow?