“What must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17)
We all come to Mass because we have this question. We all long and hunger for the transcendent, for something greater than ourselves. We want what the young man in the gospel wants: we want immortality, and thankfully, the young man has gone to the source of immortality in Jesus himself. But let’s break down this encounter: the man runs to Jesus, kneels before him and asks this question. Jesus tells him to obey the commandments. And here’s the thing: this is by all accounts a good man because he says that he has followed the commandments from his youth. He is a good man that needs just one little thing to get him over the hump and get him into heaven: he must sell all he has. What Jesus knows is that this man is possessed by his possessions. The material is what is preventing the young man from greatness. Here’s the beautiful detail that St. Mark adds: Jesus looked at him, loved him, and told him to free himself of the material to store up for himself treasure in heaven. But he couldn’t do it, and we are left with the heart breaking scene of the young man walking away sad, face fallen, because he had too many possessions
So where does that leave us? Like the disciples, we look at this encounter with Jesus and the young man and think, “If this good man who follows the commandments can’t be saved, then what chance do we have?” Ok, so the disciples weren’t as dramatic but they were worried about their salvation. Jesus applied the importance of letting go of his wealth to this particular young man. For us it may be something different. What is holding us back from spiritual greatness? Let’s face it: we know the commandments. We know right from wrong. We know what we need to do.
So we got the desire, but why don't we follow through? Because we don't want to cut certain things out of our lives. The young man couldn't cut out one very important thing out of his life even after Jesus looks at him with love! Jesus wants to communicate this love to him, but his possessions wouldn't let him be selfless, unattached, totally living a holy life. Jesus asked a lot from this particular young man, but he isn't asking much from us right now: observe the commandments and I would add: do one spiritual thing right. For example: Come to Mass every Sunday. Why do I continue to harp on that? Why do I insist? Because I believe, no, I know that this is the path to pure joy and growth as a parish. This is the path that doesn't lead us to walk away sad like this young man. We got to nail this one thing down as a parish: dedication to the Eucharist every Sunday. Then Jesus will start asking for more because we will be ready to take on more. But right now, as a community, let's be consistent with our Mass attendance. Let's be consistent with the time we give to God. Let's cut out the excess, the distractions and just do this one thing right. Jesus was ready to call this man to spiritual greatness and he is ready to do the same with us. This is like Jesus playing a spiritual game of poker with us and goes all in to prove his love for us. If we’re on the other side of the table, we have only two options if Jesus goes all in: will we do the same or will we fold?