Twenty-eighth Sunday of the ordinary season B

Posté par diaconos le 8 octobre 2021

Chapter 42: The Rich Young Man

# Jesus and the rich young man is an episode in His public life, which is told in the three synoptic Gospels. It is told in Matthew (Mt 19, 16-30), Mark and Luke (Lk 18, 18-30). In Matthew, a rich young man asked Jesus how to have eternal life. Jesus reminded him of the Decalogue and when he replied that he had kept it since his youth, he said : « I will never forget it. »

Luke cites a similar episode and the following statement : « How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God, yes, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.  » Mark then quotes Jesus’ words from this incident, which, like those of the other evangelists, draws a general law from it : « How difficult it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God ».

Camel Focan notes that these words of Mark frighten the disciples and that it is not just the rich who are concerned : « The very difficulty of entering the Kingdom of Heaven is underlined. This applies to everyone. What is meant by the possessions Mark is talking about? It is wealth, all useful things. The more of these things a person has, the less opportunity he has to enter the kingdom of God.  »

Even for someone who has a little, this is only possible because of God, since, according to the exegete, it can be said that following Jesus and the renunciation that accompanies it can become possessions. The researcher of Mark added that from 8, 34-38 the careful reader of Mark knows that a man has nothing to offer in exchange for his life and that wanting to keep it is the best way to lose it.

From the Gospel of Mark

17 Jesus was walking along the road when a man came up and fell on his knees and asked him : « Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life ?  » 18 Jesus said to him : « Why do you say I am good ? No one is good but God alone. 19 You know the commandments : Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false witness, thou shalt not hurt anyone, honour thy father and thy mother.  »

20 The man answered : « Teacher, all these things I have observed since my youth.  »21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. And he said to him : « One thing you lack: go, sell what you have, and give to the poor; then you will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me. «  22 But when he heard this, he grieved and went away, because he had great possessions.

23 Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples : « How hard it will be for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God !  » 24 The disciples were surprised at these words. Again Jesus said to them : « My children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God ! 25

26 The disciples, more and more perplexed, asked one another : « Who then can be saved ?  » 27 Jesus looked at them and said : « It is impossible for men, but not for God; for all things are possible to God. » 28 Peter began to say to Jesus : « Behold, we have left everything to follow you. « 

29 Jesus said : « Amen, I say to you, no one who has left house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children and earth 30 for my sake and for the sake of the gospel, will not receive a hundredfold in this age: house, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and earth, in persecution, but in the world to come, eternal life.  » (Mk 10, 17-30)

A rich young man

As Jesus was walking along the road, a man came and fell on his knees, calling to Him : « Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life » (Mk 10-17). Jesus began by giving up this title. Only God is good. He then told his interlocutor about the commandments of the second table of the Decalogue. The man said he had kept them since his youth. Jesus looked at him with deep tenderness and told him to give all he had to the poor and follow him. The man grieved and went away sad.

Then Jesus looked at His disciples and said : « It will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. (Mk 10:17) In reply to their astonishment He added : « It is hard for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom ; a camel would sooner go through the eye of a needle.  » His disciples were even more astonished and asked one another : « Who can be saved ?  » . Jesus told them that all things are impossible for men, but that all things are possible to God.

Peter was happy to see that they, the disciples, were leaving to follow Jesus. Jesus said that every sacrifice made for Him and for the gospel will be recompensed both now and in eternity, but that many of the first will be last and the last first. Matthew, Mark and Luke recorded these words after blessing the children. Jesus left the house where he was staying and went on his way.

Jesus said to him : « Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone ». (Mk 10:18) As to the meaning of Jesus’ question: « Why do you call me good ?  » and the distinction he made between himself and the God whom he declared to be the only good one, interpreters differ greatly depending on whether they are influenced by their dogmatic views. Those who denied the perfect holiness of Jesus saw these words as an admission of sin.

Jesus stood on the point of view of those who questioned him and whose question proved that he had the most erroneous ideas about human goodness. Considering himself to be good, he had to characterise this Master, for whom he showed deep reverence, though to himself he was only a superior man, at best a messenger of God. This, with some variations, is the explanation accepted in the Catholic Church, from Augustine to the Reformers and modern exegetes,

 Holiness is relative, and so it was with Jesus, for there was a progressive development in Him and He had yet to learn obedience through what He had to endure, and thus reach perfection. From this point of view, the idea of absolute goodness, which excludes all development and progress, belongs only to God.

 The one good God, to whom Jesus refers his interlocutor, did not leave himself without witness; he revealed himself, he expressed his holy will in the law : « You know the commandments; why do you ask what you should do ? If this man had not been satisfied with knowledge and ignorance, if he had understood this law in his spirituality, he would not have asked what he should do, but would have pleaded with God to help him fulfil the commandments he had broken. » Jesus wanted to teach him this by referring him to the Law, whose meaning and spirit He had revealed to him.

 Some exegetes see it as an explanation of the eighth commandment; others think it was meant to replace the tenth, which forbade coveting another’s property ; still others see it as a summary of all these commandments, designed to reveal their spirit. Meyer compares it to : « Thou shalt not harm a mercenary who is poor and needy ». The possession of wealth is a locution which shows that the goods of this world are seen as an aggregate, as power.

Jesus made it clear to them that it is not the mere possession of wealth that is an obstacle to salvation, but the tendency of the heart to trust in it. Jesus compounded the severity of His judgment by using a parable in which hardship seemed impossible. Jesus was appealing to the triumphant influence of love which dominates the heart over all earthly affections and passions.

Deacon Michael Houyoux

Links to other Christian websites

◊ Catholic Productions : click here to read the paper →  The Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

◊ Monastery Christ in the desert : click here to read the paper →  Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Frather Ignatius  M. Manfredonia  F. I. : »The Rich Young Man »

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