“It is impossible to escape the impression that people commonly use false standards of measurement — that they seek power, success and wealth for themselves and admire them in others, and that they underestimate what is of true value in life.” ― Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents
Gospel Text: (MK 10:17-27)
As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up,
knelt down before him, and asked him,
“Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good?
No one is good but God alone.
You know 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.”
He replied and said to him,
“Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.”
Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him,
“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.”
At that statement, his face fell,
and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
Jesus looked around and said to his disciples,
“How hard it is for those who have wealth
to enter the Kingdom of God!”
The disciples were amazed at his words.
So Jesus again said to them in reply,
“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.”
They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves,
“Then who can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said,
“For men it is impossible, but not for God.
All things are possible for God.”
After twenty centuries of Christianity, material wealth, power and prestige are still very much a measure of success whether in individuals or institutions. In our gospel reading today the people at that time (and still many people today) believed that being rich meant that one was favored by God and well on their way to the kingdom. But Jesus, as He so often did, turns conventional wisdom on its head, and states the truth about how easy it is to put something like wealth or power before God.
Reflecting on our own lives, to what degree do our lifestyles conform to the demands of the teaching of our Lord in today's gospel? For laymen, who have to work to support family members but still want to follow Jesus, how can this demand of detachment from material wealth apply, to how we live our lives? Are we still attached to various things in life which may be obstacles to a more intimate relationship with God and hindrances to follow him more closely?