Numbers 16-18; Mark 1o

Mark 10: 17-24

As he 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!

This passage struck me in a different way after the Easter Mass I attended.  Traditionally we think of “riches” as material possessions, but to me Jesus is also alluding to the Church.  I heard a homily that was not the typical Easter theme – addressed to the “Creasters” – of “We’re glad you’re here and hope you’ll consider coming every week.”  Let’s just say Hell was mentioned more than once and the Catholicity of those who don’t follow the precepts of the Church was questioned.  I reached out to my email network for their thoughts and reactions, and was surprised by the volume, the polarization, and the sometimes vehemence.   My email really touched a nerve.  But something Jesus also said keeps coming back to me, i.e. from those who have been given much, more will be required.  And to me to be part of the Church – either by being raised in it or converting to it – is to be given much.  To attend Mass only on Christmas and Easter and profess to be Catholic is to walk down the road with Jesus looking with love at your back but shaking his head sadly and commenting “How hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!”  So yes, that priest may have ruffled some feathers, but when you consider what might be at stake…

GOD’S ANSWER: As I told Ezekiel (3:17-21), “Son of man, I have appointed you a sentinel for the house of Israel. When you hear a word from my mouth, you shall warn them for me.  If I say to the wicked, You shall surely die—and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade the wicked from their evil conduct in order to save their lives—then they shall die for their sin, but I will hold you responsible for their blood. If, however, you warn the wicked and they still do not turn from their wickedness and evil conduct, they shall die for their sin, but you shall save your life.  But if the just turn away from their right conduct and do evil when I place a stumbling block before them, then they shall die. Even if you warned them about their sin, they shall still die, and the just deeds that they performed will not be remembered on their behalf. I will, however, hold you responsible for their blood. If, on the other hand, you warn the just to avoid sin, and they do not sin, they will surely live because of the warning, and you in turn shall save your own life.”

 

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