Monday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
(Sirach 17:20-24; Mark 10:17-27)
Jesus sounds contentious in today’s gospel as he challenges the man from the beginning. True, God alone is completely good, but humans do share in God’s goodness. Evidently Jesus wants to shake the man out of any kind of complacency. This is certainly his impact on the disciples when Jesus tells them that it is harder for the wealthy to enter heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. In both instances Jesus’ frankness sounds like Ernest Hemingway’s when asked how one can become a great writer. It is said that Hemingway responded, “You got to have a built-in, 100 percent fool-proof crap detector.”
But Jesus does not mean to spurn the man who wants to inherit heaven. Indeed, the passage is very clear. He loves the man which moves him to revise his one-size-fits-all response to give a tailor-made answer. This man with such a great thirst for eternal life needs dispossess himself of his riches for the sake of the poor and join Jesus’ disciples.
It is not that rich people must impoverish themselves to inherit eternal life. It is not even that all people must walk with Jesus. But we must discern what God is asking of us and do it. Sirach is on the mark when he writes, “…pray to the Lord, and make your offenses few.”