May 23, 2016
Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him,
“You are lacking in one thing.
Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor
and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”
At that statement, his face fell,
and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. (Mark 10:17-27)
The following homily was originally delivered at St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis in August of 2013:
Carol and I have four grown children. When the kids were younger, they each had regular chores for which they were responsible. But there were times when we were going to be hosting some sort of event in our home – a family gathering, a school function, or a party — for those occasions, we did an extra special house and yard cleaning. That meant a “jobs list” for each child.
After all, that’s why we have children…right?
I remember one such occasion. We were in cleaning mode for a family cook-out we were hosting.
Young Rick, maybe 8 or 9-years-old at the time, came to me with his wadded up list. He had a big smile on his face. There were big X’s next to each item and he held the wrinkled paper up to show me.
He announced, “I’m all done!”
I asked him the basic Dad-questions, “Did you do a good job?”
To which he responded, “Real good.”
“Is it Dad-good or Ricky-good?”
“It’s Dad-good,” he promised.
So I gave him a high five and said, “Thanks, buddy…great job…now go help Mom.”
There was a look of stunned disbelief on my young son’s face. He held up the list and pointed at it, “But…the list…”
And he turned and walked away sadly…
Much like the rich young man in the Gospel, who thought he had done everything he needed to do, only to discover more was being asked. I can picture the rich young man, holding up a wadded up piece of paper with the 10 commandments written on it, with big X’s next to each one.
And Jesus saying, “That’s great, buddy, thanks for not killing or stealing or coveting…but much more is expected of you”
The rich young man went away sad, because Jesus was asking him to be “all in.”
The Gospel indicates that “the disciples were amazed at his words” and that “they were exceedingly astonished.” The shock and amazement came because Jesus’ words appeared to be in direct contradiction to the popular notion that wealth equals divine favor.
Even today, many read this Gospel passage and are confused. Is money bad? Are we supposed to feel guilty if we have wealth? Will I have more difficulty attaining eternal life because of my financial status while on this earth?
The Gospel is not telling us that possessions and money are evil. It is telling us that we need to be committed to all aspects of our faith. Not only in how we follow the rules of the Church, but also in how we live our daily lives in service to others. In our prayers for others, in the time we spend serving others directly, and in the resources we are able to make available to others. It is telling us that we need to be “all in.”
“All in” means not being content with doing the minimum. It means putting aside our own needs and making a commitment to the needs of others, the needs of the larger Church. It means sacrifice. Being “all in” means taking our focus off of what we have already accomplished and being in tune with what still needs to be done; and our work is never done.
It means that after you have completed your job list, you go help your Mom.