Sunday, October 11, 2015

One thing lacking

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
October 11, 2015

Mark 10:17-30

The episode is narrated with special intensity. Jesus sets out for Jerusalem, but before he goes away from that place, a stranger comes "running" who "falls to his knees" before him to detain him. He urgently needs Jesus.

He's not a sick person asking for healing. He's not a leper pleading for compassion from the ground. His request is of a different sort. What he seeks in that good teacher is light to guide his life: "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?". It's not a theoretical question, but an existential one. He's not talking in general; he wants to know what he has to do personally.

First, Jesus reminds him that "no one is good but God." Before asking ourselves what has to be "done", we must know that we are before a God who is Good like nobody else -- we are to support our lives on his unfathomable goodness. Then, he reminds him of the "commandments" of this Good God. According to biblical tradition, that is the way to eternal life.

The man's answer is admirable. He has observed all that from his youth, but feels a deeper aspiration within himself. He is looking for more. "Jesus looks at him fondly." His eyes are already expressing the intense personal relationship he wants to establish with him.

Jesus understands his dissatisfaction very well -- "You are lacking in one thing." By following this logic of "doing" as commanded to "possess" eternal life, even though he is living in a blameless way, he will not be fully satisfied. In humans beings, there is a deeper aspiration.

So, Jesus invites him to orient his life based on a new logic. The first thing is not to cling to his possessions -- "sell what you have." Second, help the poor -- "give them your money." Finally, "Come, follow me". The two could travel the road towards the kingdom of God together.

The man gets up and walks away from Jesus. He forgets his loving gaze and goes away sad. He knows he will never know the joy and freedom of those who follow Jesus. Mark explains that "he was very rich."

Isn't that our experience as well-off Christians in rich countries?
Aren't we trapped by material well-being?
Doesn't our religion lack love in practice for the poor?
Don't we lack the joy and freedom of Jesus' followers?

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