Personal relationship with Jesus
In today’s Gospel, an unnamed man approaches Jesus and inquiries about what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus replies that one must follow the commandments of the Law of Moses. The man acknowledges that he has observed all of these since his childhood. Jesus then says that only one thing is lacking: he must give his possessions to the poor and follow Jesus. The man leaves in sadness, and Mark tells us that this is because he had many possessions. Jesus makes two requirements of the wealthy man who approaches him. First, he must give up his possessions. Throughout history, some Christians have taken this literally. Their example witnesses to us a radical commitment to the Gospel of Jesus. Some have read this as a particular requirement directed to this specific individual. Still others have sought to explain the meaning intended by the word possessions as those things that prevent one from following Jesus. Christians have generally understood that at the least, following Jesus requires that believers hold material possessions loosely and remain vigilant against seeking security in accumulating possessions. The second requirement Jesus makes of this man is the invitation that Jesus extends to all would-be disciples: “follow me.” Jesus very much wants this man to be his disciple. We believe that the Christian faith is one in which each believer is in a personal relationship with Jesus. Just as this Gospel tells us that Jesus loves the man and is sad when he departs, so too, Jesus loves us and is saddened when we are unable to follow him.
To his disciples, Jesus laments the challenges faced by those who are rich in following him and entering the Kingdom of God. Peter replies to Jesus by boasting that the disciples have already given up everything. Jesus acknowledges that those who have given up everything for the sake of the Gospel will be rewarded. This reward begins now, in the new community that one will gain in this life, and will continue in the eternal age to come. Our personal relationship with Jesus is also an invitation to the community of faith, the Church.