Homily for the twenty-eighth Sunday of the year - Year B - Mk. 10:17-30


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"As Jesus was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: 'Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.' " And he said to him, "Teacher, all these I have observed from my youth." And Jesus looking upon him loved him, and said to him, "You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." At that saying his countenance fell, and he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions.


"And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it will be for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!" And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, "Then who can be saved?" Jesus looked at them and said, "With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God."


"Peter began to say to him, "Lo, we have left everything and followed you." Jesus said, "Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life."





Homily:


"As Jesus was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, 'Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?' "


This Sunday's Gospel reminds us - happily! - that Jesus is principally he whom the Father sent in order to show us the way to eternal Life! "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" What a beautiful example of faith in the divinity of the Teacher, this Jesus of Nazareth, this Great Prophet who teaches with authority! Alas, this faith was only a spark, a momentary gleam, which briefly leapt up into the air before falling back to earth... The remainder of the account clearly indicates this to us...


"And Jesus said to him, 'Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: "Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother." ' And he said to him, 'Teacher, all these I have observed from my youth.' And Jesus looking upon him loved him, and said to him, 'You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.' At that saying his countenance fell, and he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions."


A good observance of the commands of God is not enough to be saved. Perhaps he who thinks he has always observed the commands of God will have a good conscience; but this will not be enough for him to obtain the eternal life that Jesus came to bring to mankind on behalf of the Father. For Jesus came to give the Law of God the perfection of Love, that Love which, alone, is stronger than death, stronger than eternal death. "Jesus, looking upon him, LOVED him!" Jesus loves all men, he wants all of them to be saved, but this love is not primarily a human love: it is above all, primarily, a Divine love, an eternal love! When Jesus loves someone, he calls that man or woman to a destiny which is not that of the earth, but rather that of Heaven, that of ETERNITY!


One must respond to the Love of Jesus with a supernatural love, a love which exceeds the limits of the visible and material world. Alas, very often, all too often, the man whom Jesus calls is content to respond with a love which remains rooted in our terrestrial world, this world which, however, at the hour of death will come to an end and disappear from our sight. Man is obliged to live on the earth and to use the material goods of this world, but he must do so with enough detachment to be ready to give up everything in order to follow the call of God, which was not the case with this man who spoke to Jesus: "And Jesus looking upon him loved him, and said to him, 'You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.' At that saying his countenance fell, and he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions."


"And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, 'How hard it will be for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!' And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, 'Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.' And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, 'Then who can be saved?' Jesus looked at them and said, 'With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.' "


"All things are possible with God." This word of Jesus is truly the key to salvation! God is All-Powerful! This means that he can do anything, without exception. This does not mean that God will do everything he can do. Let us be clear: if we ask God to save us, he will do absolutely everything he can; but God, who can save all men, will, however, save only those who will have actually asked God to save them. For God always respects a man or woman's freedom and waits until each personally responds to the Love that God eternally bears for him or her. Love calls to love, and this love is one which requires freedom, for if it did not, it would not be love.


"Peter began to say to him, 'Lo, we have left everything and followed you.' Jesus said, 'Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.' "


This word of Peter: "we have left everything and followed you" breathes peace and serenity. Peter knows that he loves Jesus with all his heart and that he and his companions truly have that love of God which goes to the point of detachment from all wordly goods: "we have left everything and followed you." Peter is happy, he is satisfied with what he has done, he does not regret anything at all, even if, in following the Master, he must undergo "persecutions".


Yes! Peter is happy to be a "rock", as Jesus said to him: "Blessed are you, Simon... " (Mt. 16:17). Peter and the other disciples had given up everything to follow Jesus, and it is this which makes them happy for all eternity, an eternity that has already begun here on earth. For, in Jesus, Heaven and earth are joined together: the communion of the saints of Heaven and earth is a reality which is called the Body of Christ! Peter has given up everything in order to follow the Master, and as a result he gains in Jesus a multitude of brothers, that multitude of which he, as the "rock", is the foundation!


During this Sunday Eucharist, let us ask Mary, the Mother of Jesus, to lead us step by step on the path of eternity. In renouncing motherhood through her virginal consecration, Mary too had given up a material good - one that is very precious to a woman - and yet, it is this very renouncement which made her worthy to become the Mother of God and the Mother of the entire Church! So, may Mary be our model as we seek to do the will of God!



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