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The secret to become really rich
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Mark 10:17-30)
Indigenous People’s Sunday
October 14, 2012
By Fr. Sal Putzu, SDB
THERE was sadness in the eyes of the young man – sadness all over his face – as he moved away from Jesus. (See Mk 10:22.) He had asked the right question: “What must I do to share in everlasting life?” (Mk 10:17), the question that matters most in life. But he had been unable to accept the right answer: “Go and sell what you have and give it to the poor . . . then come and follow me” (Mk 10:21).
Jesus’ answer contained the challenge to go beyond what is prescribed (the Commandment), and venture trustfully into the demanding realm of discipleship. This includes hands empty of material resources, a heart filled with love for God and neighbor, a will set on following Jesus till the end of our earthly pilgrimage, at all costs.
The rich young man was not prepared to stake so much. His heart was chained to his riches. He preferred the deceptive security of earthly possessions to the apparent risk of total detachment and generosity. From that moment he slipped into oblivion, joining the crowd of those who are unable to make spiritual values the treasure of their lives. He failed to realize that the lasting wealth was in being with Jesus and thus belong to the Kingdom.
Others, more wise, would have accepted the challenging invitation of Jesus. Solomon would—he, who preferred the spirit of Wisdom to scepter, throne, and gems. (See Wis 7:7-9.) The apostles did accept the invitation to forsake everything and just be with Jesus. (See Mk 10:28.)
Francis of Assisi did accept that challenge. He was rich and young. He renounced all earthly properties to embrace the poverty of Christ, who “though he was in the form of God . . . emptied himself and took the form of a slave” (Phil 2:6.7). And from that moment onward, Francis started experiencing perfect happiness and freedom.
Like him, during 20 centuries of Christianity, thousands of others, who had been born rich and powerful, chose the poverty of the cross and the richness of radical discipleship. In this way, they became “free people” filled with the inner peace and joy which no thief can steal. They became “people for others” like their Leader. Their empty hands were freer to rise in prayer and to serve countless millions of needy brothers and sisters.
Today’s world, drugged with material ambitions and obsessions, needs to be reminded of the liberating richness of hands emptied of material resources but filled with love. Our world needs to see that the real treasure is “within” each human person. It needs to see this truth lived out in me and you.