Daily Office Readings for Wednesday of Proper 14: Year 1
“Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, ‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21)
There are several points to ponder in this exchange between our Lord Jesus and this unnamed potential apostle.
First, the article “the.” is not in the Greek version of this reading. This is at least an English interpretation of how to understand this writing. Pondering further will ask us to look at what the message might be if the “the” was not there. We would read, “and give money to the poor.” The implication is that perhaps some money might be retained for himself, or as community money for the followers of our Lord Jesus who were at the mercy of whoever could help them, very often it was women who had money.
Another point to ponder is that this individual was given the invitation to “follow me,” by our Lord Jesus. Had he accepted this invitation we would have his name. This is how we have Levi’s name, (Also known as Matthew). Levi was collecting the tax when he was asked to by Jesus to follow Him and he dropped everything and followed our Lord Jesus; (Mark 2:13 and 14). This rich man could have done the same thing. He didn’t have possessions, possessions had him; beware!
There are some revealing words in the request of the man with wealth. He wanted to know what he had to do to “inherit” eternal life. Perhaps this is how he acquired his earthly wealth and wanted the same for eternal life. Also, our Lord Jesus goes through relational questions about how he responds to the needs of his neighbors; that is ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” Jesus goes through the last six of the Ten Commandments, the Commandments dealing with how we respond to one another. To which the man says he has done since his youth. It seems he had a check list of how to gain eternal life. He was working on the premise of works righteousness. But we can’t earn our way into heaven. We love our way into heaven.
Perhaps the most important words in this passage are “Jesus, looking at him, loved him.” And our Lord Jesus is asking the same thing of us. If we love our neighbors we won’t have to worry about a checklist of what to do and what not to do. Our Lord Jesus says we only have really two Commandments, to love God with all that we are, and to love our neighbors as He loves us. Love for God and neighbor is the whole message of the Bible. Let us hear it and apply it.
Let us live to love, rather than just live to live, listening to what the Spirit is saying to, and through the saints of God, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John