October 10, 2009


28th Sunday - B
Mark 10:17-30

Thank God, it's not up to us!

"What must I do to inherit eternal life?" the man asked Jesus. From the very beginning of the conversation, he has already asked the wrong question. For him, it's all about what he has done and wants to do. "What must I do?"

With that approach, God's commandments become a list of obstacles to overcome, or a list of items to check off. The man now feels that he has accomplished all that, then what's next.

The man has lost sight of God's loving intention when God gave the commandments to Moses. The Lord God brought the children of Israel out of Egypt, the place of slavery (Deuteronomy 5:6). God then gave them the commandments so they "may live and prosper, and may have long life" (Deuteronomy 5:33). In fact, God's commandments were given as the way to life and liberty, not as obstacles to overcome, or things to check off.

The man has been treating God's commandments as obstacles not as gift. Consequently, he feels a false sense of accomplishment. "All of these I have observed."

Coupled with that false sense of accomplishment is his wealth, which seems to have created in him a tendency toward self-reliance and self-determination. Together, his negative approach toward God's commandments, his false sense of accomplishment, and his tendency of self-determination become obstacles for him to follow Jesus. He only wants to follow Jesus in his own way - "What must I do," not in Jesus' way.

The disciples, in contrast, put their question in the passive voice, "Then, who can be saved?" This suggests that they have a better understanding that the Kingdom of God is not something humans can acchieve. [1] God alone can save. Moreover, for those who do not rely on their own wealth, possessions, and connections; those who follow Jesus in God's way are rewarded "a hundred times more now in this present age,... with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come."

Today, we must ask ourselves, "What or Who do I rely on?"

[1] Francis J. Moloney. The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002; p. 202.

No comments: