The Gospel story regarding the rich man and Jesus is challenging and relevant for us to reflect on. It has an anti-materialistic message in contrast with the consumer-driven society that we live in today. The young man asked Jesus, Master, what must I do to have eternal life? Jesus elaborated the Ten Commandments, and the man replied, “I have obeyed all these commandments, since my childhood. Jesus looked at Him and loved him, and He said one thing is lacking. (Mk 10:21) Go and sell what you have and give money to the poor, and you will have rich in heaven. Jesus required this man to sell all his possessions which is not easy to fulfill since it became his supreme object of love and trust in his life.
Although we are not required to sell all our possessions to become a Christian, we must hold our possessions in an “open hand,” being willing to allow the Lord Jesus to take from us whatever He desires. By separating ourselves from earthly things, we are free of the notion that material objects will make us happy. In doing so, we open ourselves to God’s invitation to possess only things that will bring us to heaven and care for those most in need of our love.
Bl. Francisco Palau reiterated: the Love of God and neighbors sum up the whole of God’s work in the heart of men. (L38. 4) In Luke 14:33, “Any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” Giving up something we value is never easy. It takes time for us to let go. “Letting go” is the only way we could experience true charity and freedom of ourselves. Let go means allowing God to be in control. We need to recognize His authority and move over to let Him lead. Rest assured that God will bring what is best in us. To let go is surrendering to God, a daily giving it all to Him and our neighbors who need our love, care, understanding and compassion.
Finally, we read that the rich man “went away sad, for he had many possessions.” Jesus lamented, “how hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God.” He said this, not because wealth is a sin, but because it’s so easy for those with wealth to rely on themselves rather than trust in God. We do not know what happened to the young man in Mark’s Gospel after his encounter with Jesus. Change is never easy; we fight to hold and we fight to let go. But Jesus tells us that with God anything is possible.
I invite you to think that the rich man went home and thought about what Jesus asked him to do. Indeed, in spite of the fact that he couldn’t completely commit that day, perhaps he was able to begin with one step by letting go of one possession, after that another and another. What is the first step that you can make today that will move you toward giving yourself and trusting God completely?
Reina del Carmelo Community