Gospel Reflection on 28th Sunday: 10th October 2021

“What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

You come here not to gaze at God
but to let God gaze at you1

We could stay with these words for as long as it takes to reawaken our awareness that we already ‘possess’ eternal life. Like the man in today’s gospel, we can’t fully understand what that means ‘because we can only allow ourselves to be grasped by it. That kind of surrender is needed if we are ever to experience the Eternal within us.’2 Jesus looked steadily at that young man and loved him. ‘Jesus saw that the young man had identified himself with his possessions. His sense of self was wrapped in his belongings. To give them up he felt that he would lose himself.’3 So he went away sad, for he was a man of many possessions.

‘Our ‘possessions’ can take the shape of a person, ideology, place or thing that we have an attachment for: someone or something to whom we have handed over the power to make us happy or unhappy. To really hear a symphony, we must be sensitively attuned to every instrument in the orchestra. When we take pleasure only in the drum, we cease to hear the symphony because the sound of the drum has blotted out the other instruments. A preference does not damage our capacity to hear and enjoy the other instruments, but the moment our preference turns into attachment, it hardens us to the other sounds and we suddenly undervalue them. Awareness, rather than renunciation, shows us the loss we suffer when we overvalue the drum and when we turn a deaf ear to the rest of the orchestra. When we no longer think that our happiness depends on a person, place or thing, we will move through life living from one moment to the other, wholly absorbed in the present, carrying with us little from the past, living in the eternal now. And we will have found in our heart the answer to the question, “Master, what is it that I must do to gain eternal life?” ‘4

[1] Words quoted in a Hindu temple [2] R.Rohr [3] Matthew Wright [4] Anthony de Mello

Gospel Mark 10:17-30

Jesus was setting out on a journey when a man ran up, knelt before him and put this question to him, “Good master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: You must not kill; You must not commit adultery; You must not steal; You must not bring false witness; You must not defraud; Honour your father and mother.” And he said to him, “Master, I have kept all these from my earliest days.” Jesus looked steadily at him and loved him, and he said, “There is one thing you lack. Go and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me. But his face fell at these words and he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.

Jesus looked round and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were astounded by these words, but Jesus insisted, “My children,” he said to them “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 a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” They were more astonished than ever. “In that case” they said to one another “who can be saved?” Jesus gazed at them. “For men” he said “it is impossible, but not for God: because everything is possible for God.”

Peter took this up. “What about us?” he asked him. “We have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “I tell you solemnly, there is no one who has left house, brothers, sisters, father, children or land for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not be repaid a hundred times over, houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and land – not without persecutions – now in this present time and, in the world to come, eternal life.”