Monday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
(I Peter 1:3-9; Mark 10:17-27)
Jesus simply astounds us when he says that it is hard for the rich to enter heaven. The disciples in the reading are nonplussed with Jesus because they are inclined to think that the rich are favored by God. On the other hand, we think it unfair that the rich may be summarily excluded from the kingdom just because they have money. But more interesting in this passage is the claim that Jesus implies about himself.
Pope Benedict XVI reflects on Jesus’ saying, “...come follow me,” as the way to eternal life. According to Benedict Jesus is staking out equality with God by indicating that associating with him brings one into heaven. It is the same identification that Jesus makes in the Gospel according to John when he says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
We must add, however, that it is not just following Jesus in the sense of accompanying him that accomplishes eternal life. Judas does this but fails to enter into glory. No, to gain eternal life entails becoming like Jesus which in turn means to embody the love of God. It means looking at others not as our competitors but as our equals worthy of attention and respect as many poor do almost instinctively. It also means being grateful for whatever we have and willing to share it with those in need, again as the poor do out of love for God.