Mass Reflection- If I Am Rich, I Will Go To Hell???

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This week, we hear a famous story from the Gospel of Mark. In Mark 10:17-27, we read of a man running up to Jesus and asking him a very good question- what does he need to do to get into Heaven? Jesus, as he does so often, answers the man by turning the question back on the one who asked it. Jesus begins by listing a few of the commandments: You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother." When Jesus finishes saying this, the man is very excited. He replies, "Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth." I can imagine the man going through a checklist in his head as Jesus spoke. It probably went something like this: "don't kill, check; don't cheat, check; don't steal, CHECK..." and so on and so forth. The man has lived a good life and now he thinks he is pretty much a shoe-in. And then Jesus speaks up again and says something that makes the man's hair on the back of his neck stand up straight. He says, "You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." OUCH! that "one thing" the man is lacking seems like a pretty big pill to swallow! If you are thinking that the deal Jesus laid out seems a bit unfair, I can tell you you are not alone! The man talking to Jesus felt the same way! He walked away from Jesus very sad, because he had many possessions.

The man that asked Jesus this question already thought he was getting into Heaven. He came to Jesus for validation. He wanted Christ to give him the once and for all, "YES, you are good to go!" And Jesus turned his world upside down. You see this man was very wealthy and had a lot to "give up." He was not expecting Jesus to give him such a task. And how often do we go through the motions of "doing what is right" without fully committing to God and giving everything back to him? I say "back" to Him because the truth is that it all comes from Him. We like to say things like, "this is MY money, I can do whatever I want with it." The reality of it is that everything we have is God's, and He will always give us what we need.

The disciples were also very surprised by what happened between the man and Jesus. After they pondered what Jesus meant by telling them that it is very hard for a wealthy person to enter the kingdom of God, they ask, "then who can be saved?" Jesus goes even further, saying, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." Does that seem ridiculously sarcastic to any of you? It should! It is impossible for a camel to go through something so small! This is why the disciples were so confused. You see, in Jesus' time, Jews believed that if they had wealth, it meant that God favored them. In other words, if you were rich, God liked you better! Jesus had a different view on the subject. So, we can see why the disciples question Jesus here and why the man was so disappointed. 


NO! However, the interaction in scripture this week is very interesting. Jesus teaches us here that it is impossible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. Let's examine this idea of "rich". We are called as Catholic Christians to live in a way that is different from others- a way that glorifies Christ. We are called to protect the poor and to live a life following Jesus. The man in the scripture this week was missing the point. He thought that he only needed to live a good life and obey the commandments, while all the time indulging in what the world had to offer. Jesus said there was more to it than that. If we are going to faithfully follow Him, we need to acknowledge the fact that God loves us enough to sacrifice His only Son to take our sin. Wealth, therefore, comes from God and His love for all of us, not just a chosen few that are "rich". Trust me, making money and being wealthy are not bad things! (See Ecclesiastes 5:19!) Jesus is simply warning that if we allow the wealth of the world to determine our every move, we become a slave to it. Now, I am not saying that we need to hold the biggest donation to Good Will in history and sell everything we own! I am only asking you to reflect on the words Jesus speaks in this passage and how it applies to YOUR idea of what makes you wealthy or rich.

I challenge you all this week to think about what God is asking you to give up. Has God been calling you to follow Him more closely; and if so, what is getting in the way? Are there things that we are not willing to give up because we have become dependent on them instead of God? Let me sum this up with the end of the Gospel reading. After the disciples tell Jesus that it seems impossible to enter Heaven as described in His terms, He says this: "For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God." If we believe this then let's put our money where our mouth is! Trust in the Grace that God has given us and the Truth that is in the promise He fulfills through us! Jesus calls us to follow Him at all cost, that might just mean it may be a bit a tough pill to swallow at times.

May God continue to bless you all! I am excited to see you THIS SUNDAY FOR another GREAT Life Night!!!!
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