MAY 25. Ord. Time. Wk 8. b. Mk. 10. 28-31
At that time Peter began to tell Jesus, ‘What about us? We have left everything and followed you.’ Jesus said, ‘I tell you solemnly, there is no one who has left house, brothers, sisters, father, children or land for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not be repaid a hundred times over, houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and land – not without persecutions – now in this present time and, in the world to come, eternal life.
‘Many who are first will be last, and the last first.’
Ordinary Time resumes after the Easter Season.
Today’s reading follows on from when Christ is addressing his disciples and he had just advised them of how hard it would be for the rich to enter into heaven… “It would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven”, and Peter responds; - ‘What about us Lord? – We have left everything!”
It is important to never lose sight of the fact Jesus is teaching his followers, and we need to be looking for the lessons within what he does and says. Here he is telling them, and us, that those of us who “renounce” earthly possessions for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven will be rewarded a hundred times over.
But this lesson is not as straightforward as it might appear at first sight, because it takes us back to the first lesson of the Sermon on the Mount, where the teaching is “Blessed are the poor; - in Spirit;” – which is very different from teaching “Blessed are the Poor”; - in fact the whole message is changed by the words ‘in spirit’.
Christ is talking about the desires of the heart when he talks about “leaving” or “renouncing” possessions! What this means is a person can be wealthy; - but his heart is not ‘attached’ to his wealth; - and a person can be poor; - but his heart does not “desire” riches or wealth.
This is an extremely important point as it puts the focus of the teaching on what the disciple desires, rather than what he has or does not have. Clearly Jesus is not saying that those who are wealthy will be excluded from the Kingdom of Heaven; - as everybody is being invited; - both the rich and the poor!
I suspect the first apostles were actually reasonably well off, as many of them were fishermen who had boats and had been living off their “business” of selling fish, while Matthew was a tax collector, and such people were despised as they used to keep money for themselves, so he was obviously not “poor”!
But all of these first disciples were clearly not attached to their wealth or possessions, as was made known to us in the Gospels where Jesus invites them to join him, and we are told they “left everything” and followed him.
The “message” for us from the reading is that we should not be “attached” to our wealth or our possessions while; - should we be poor; - we should not “desire” or “yearn for” that which we do not have.
Christ wants our ‘hearts’ and ‘desires’ to focus, solely, on ‘loving’ God, and doing his will!
Gospel Acclamation cf.Mt11:25
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth;
you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the kingdom.