We are lacking in one thing
The episode is told with special intensity. Jesus sets out on the road to Jerusalem, but before he departs from where he is, someone he does not know runs up to him and kneels down before him to stop him. He urgently needs Jesus.
He is not a sick person asking for healing. He is not a leper who, kneeling down, begs for mercy. His request is of a different order. What he is seeking from that good master is light to guide his life: What must I do to inherit eternal life? It is not a theoretical question, but an existential one. He is not talking about people in general; he wants to know what he personally must do.
Before anything else, Jesus reminds him that no one is good but God alone. Before posing the question regarding what we must do, we have to know that we live in the presence of a God who is good like no other: we need to find support for our life in his unfathomable goodness. Then, Jesus reminds him about this good God’s commandments. According to the biblical tradition, that is the way to eternal life.
The man’s answer is admirable. He has fulfilled all this from his youth, but he feels inside himself a deeper aspiration. He is looking for something more. Jesus, looking at him, loved him. His gaze is already expressing the personal and intense relationship that he wants to establish with him.
Jesus understands very well his dissatisfaction: You are lacking in one thing. Even if this man’s life is blameless, he will not be fully satisfied by following his logic of doing what is commanded in order to inherit eternal life. There is in human beings a more profound aspiration.
Hence, Jesus invites him to direct his life from a new logic. The first is not to hold onto what he possesses: sell what you have. The second is to give to the poor. Finally, come, follow me. The two of them can travel together on the path towards God’s kingdom.
The man gets up and leaves Jesus. He forgets Jesus’ loving gaze and goes away sad. He knows that he will never be able to know the joy and freedom of those who follow Jesus. The explanation given us by Mark is that the man had many possessions.
- Is not this the experience we satisfied Christians from rich countries have?
- Do we not live trapped by material well-being?
- Is not our religion lacking in practical love for the poor?
- Do we not lack the joy and freedom of Jesus’ followers?
October 11, 2015
28 Ordinary Time (B)
Mark 10, 17-30