The rich young man who wanted to gain eternal life seemed surprised by Jesus' command that he sell all his possessions and give them to the poor. Like him, we too likely have that “one thing” left to release. If only we could simply follow the law, obey the commandments, and keep our “one thing” tucked close to our heart too. But then we see that love look in Jesus’ eyes, and we know we need to choose. They can’t both be our deepest love.
It may sometimes be that we are not aware of what we are holding onto, but, if we become honest with ourselves, we begin to realize that something is holding us back from deeper intimacy with Jesus. If we could simply return Jesus’ gaze, rather than try so hard to become godly, perhaps our grip on that “one thing” would loosen as He lifts us into His arms and into greater freedom.
One thing you can be sure of is that no matter what it is you struggle to let go of, God will never let go of you.
Mark 10:17-31 (The Message)
As he went out into the street, a man came running up, greeted him with great reverence, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to get eternal life?” Jesus said, “Why are you calling me good? No one is good, only God. You know the commandments: Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t cheat, honor your father and mother.” He said, “Teacher, I have—from my youth—kept them all!”
Jesus looked him hard in the eye—and loved him! He said, “There’s one thing left: Go sell whatever you own and give it to the poor. All your wealth will then be heavenly wealth. And come follow me.” The man’s face clouded over. This was the last thing he expected to hear, and he walked off with a heavy heart. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and not about to let go.
Looking at his disciples, Jesus said, “Do you have any idea how difficult it is for people who ‘have it all’ to enter God’s kingdom?” The disciples couldn’t believe what they were hearing, but Jesus kept on: “You can’t imagine how difficult. I’d say it’s easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye than for the rich to get into God’s kingdom.” That set the disciples back on their heels. “Then who has any chance at all?” they asked. Jesus was blunt: “No chance at all if you think you can pull it off by yourself. Every chance in the world if you let God do it.” Peter tried another angle: “We left everything and followed you.”
Jesus said, “Mark my words, no one who sacrifices house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, land—whatever—because of me and the Message will lose out. They’ll get it all back, but multiplied many times in homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and land—but also in troubles. And then the bonus of eternal life! This is once again the Great Reversal: Many who are first will end up last, and the last first.
For Reflection and Prayer:
1. Is there a word, a phrase, or an image that stands out to you? Stay with that and see what else Jesus may speak to you.
2.Take some time to name the “one thing/s left” that makes your heart feel heavy when you consider leaving it behind? Ponder this with Jesus for a while.
3. Are there any ways in which you feel you are vulnerable or tempted to try gain God’s kingdom on your own? If you are comfortable, ask Jesus some questions about this. Can you see how He is gazing at you? Listen to what He might have to say to you.
Do you sense Jesus’ gaze upon you? Do you notice what your hands hold closest to your heart? Are you ready to be free of the weight you carry?