A Young Man Encounters Jesus
28th Sunday Ordinary Time
October 10, 2021
Is there something deeply lacking in my relationship with God? In this Sunday’s gospel of the rich young man and his haunting encounter with Jesus (Mark 10:17-30), Mark has an added detail that the other Gospels lack – he notes that Jesus looks at this young man and loves him. Why does he love him so much? This man has spent his life loving God without even realizing it, because he was trying to keep the Commandments. When I try to keep the Commandments of God, I love God. It is really just that simple. Once again we see that love is not a feeling we have for someone – even though that is important– rather, love is a series of actions, of behaviors, of being obedient to what God asks me to do.
This rich young man has reached a very critical point in his life. Without realizing it he has literally come to the opportunity of a lifetime, one that would never come again, one that would come to very few people in human history. In most other Gospel accounts of a personal call by Jesus, it is Jesus himself who seeks the person out and says "follow me", but here it is the man who seeks Jesus. He takes the initiative as Jesus is about to walk away!
No doubt the rich young man had been watching and listening to Jesus. Now he sees his opportunity slipping away. He's been hesitating – perhaps afraid to ask – he knows that Jesus is about to get up and go away, so he finally summons his courage and comes before Jesus to ask his question. He is not far from the kingdom of God, yet he misses his opportunity because something is held back. Money and wealth are not everyone's problem, but it was this man's problem. All that he might have been in this world and the next were hanging on this one decision. The man choses his worldly possessions and goes away sad.
Imagine yourself running up to Jesus as he's about to set out on the journey. What would you say to him? What would he say to you? Would you have the courage to ask him "What more do I need to do? Or perhaps, “What is coming between you and me, Lord, in our relationship?” Do you have the courage to ask this question, and then to act on it?
There are many ways I can tell what priority God has in my life. For example, if I don't attend mass on Sunday because there's a sports game on, then sports are more important to me than Jesus. If I find time for everything but prayer, then almost everything is more important than Jesus. How I act with the people I love at home is an indication of how much I love Christ, too. How I spend my money is a very good indication of my real priorities. We can tell a great deal about God’s place by simply looking at our checkbook. What have I done with what God has given me in my life? What is that one thing you and God will agree on that you must do? If God should reveal this to you, if you have the courage to ask, also pray for the courage to act, and not go away sad like this man did!