Date: Sunday, October 14, 2018
Just in time. Jesus is setting out on a journey, a man runs up, kneels and asks: “Good Teacher – What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Aware of his sincerity, Jesus asks if he observes the commandments. He replies: “From my youth.” Jesus looking at him “loved him” advising: “Go sell what you have, give to the poor (you will have treasure in heaven) then come follow me.” Crestfallen, he goes away sad for he has many possessions.
Jesus gives this eager and sincere man the key(s) to inherit eternal life: be a decent person/obey the commandments and (sensing a deeper longing) come follow me. Jesus is inviting the man to do what Jesus is embarking upon himself. Jesus is leaving his home and center of his ministry at Capernaum to journey to Jerusalem at the cost of his own life.
We see this exchange/encounter in the Gospel according to St. Mark exemplified in two people canonized today at St. Peter Basilica: Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Oscar Romero. Giovanni Battista Montini, as Archbishop of Milan, commissioned the clergy: “I send you into the world. You must share its hopes and sorrows, not its baseness and its vulgarity. You must live spiritually.” This is how the future Pope related with university students in Rome and with workers in Milan. Romero after becoming Archbishop of San Salvador identified with the poor and oppressed. Both of these men followed Jesus even to the cross.
I have sympathy for the man in the Gospel. How many of us would sell what we have, leave family, home and occupation, and set out with an itinerant preacher? Is it possible that on second thought he reconsidered the invitation of Jesus and again sought him out; that God instilled in him the gift of wisdom to discern what is truly precious? All things are possible with God.