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Lectionary 347: Say Yes

February 26, 2017


Lectionary: 347.  Scripture for Feb. 27. Sirach 17:19-27. Psalm 32: 1-2,5.6.7. Mark 10:17-27:

Jesus looked on him with love.  This is said in Mark’s Gospel who rarely speaks of love. John is just the opposite as most of his Gospel is about love and faith in the person of Jesus.  There are four portraits of Jesus in our Gospels; they differ and they are intended by the individual Evangelist who manifests his theology through the way Jesus is presented.   Mark, as we know, is the Evangelist of the Passion Narrative and of the Cross. Discipleship is very radical in this Gospel and often Jesus is found correcting his disciples’ mistakes.  That is why I was struck by the statement that Jesus loved this person who observed the commandments all his life. What more did he need to do to inherit or enter the kingdom of God?  Fair enough, for we all want this in our journey of life now and at its end.

I noticed that the commandments which were mentioned by the man are those dealing with his neighbor.  His love for God is implied even though the other three and the fourth commandment are not mentioned. The narrative tells us he was not able to follow Jesus for he was well off in the goods of this world and could not detach himself from them.  He was not able to take up the cross and follow the Lord.  Was he saved?  Certainly, for he did keep the commandments.

The disciples questioned Jesus about this event and were shocked about his need to give up all his possessions which for them was a sign that God blessed him and favored him.  Jesus explained this was not a question that could not be answered for giving up possessions is possible with the help of God.  St. Francis would do this later and so many holy and good people have always done this to follow Jesus more closely.   We all have the capacity to follow Jesus if we have been baptized and strengthen that initiation with our faith.  It does not mean leaving the world or taking vows.  This is a commitment of the heart that makes us relate to Jesus in all dimensions of life even those that are likened to dying on the Cross for Jesus.

The man, we are not told whether he was young or old, went away sad and  followed his own manner of living by not giving up his riches. We do not know whether this later changed as he aged.  To take up the Cross with Jesus he could not do. The disciples learned much from this incident and despite their failures so often mentioned by Mark they continued with Jesus even to the Way of the Cross. With God this was not impossible.

Jesus looks on us each day with love. We have a chance to detach ourselves from those things and persons that distract us from returning that love that God has for us.  Love demands a radical response to God’s love for us.  It may depend on how we love others, including enemies.  The man who observed those commandments that deal with the other shows that he was beginning to learn how to really love God in return.

Lent begins in two days. On Ash Wednesday we are reminded that like Job we come from God naked and return to God in our nakedness.  God loves us and has creted us from the dust of the earth and we will return to it.

This Lent we can do more than observe the commandments.  We can respond each day to the love God and Jesus give us each day.  Rather than concentrating on what to give up by prayer, fasting, and almsgiving or generosity, maybe we should return the love that God shows us each day of our life. God’s love is there for the taking.  We just need to be open to feel, see, and experience this love while carrying our crosses without complaining.  Lent may seem a difficult season for many of us, but the love of Jesus is with us as we journey with Jesus each day.  Let us remember “nothing is impossible with God.”  Amen.

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