28th Sunday: Richness of Heart:  Mk 10:17-30 or 10:17-27

In the Gospel, we heard a rich man approached Jesus and asked, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “You are lacking in one thing: go and sell what you have and share with the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”  The rich man turned away with sadness because he had many possessions.  The rich man was very much attached to his wealth, and it was difficult for him to give it up.   Jesus was not saying that it is impossible for a wealthy person to enter eternal life, but it is difficult if the person does not have the attitude of sharing.

Why did richness prevent man from reaching God?   Sometimes, riches can encourage a false sense of independence.  Riches can have a tendency to make a person selfish.  However, we need to understand that Jesus is not against riches, but Jesus is against the selfish and greedy attitudes of rich people.   There were many rich people, who were very close friends of Jesus, like Zacchaeus, Joseph of Arimathaea, and Nicodemus.  They used their riches to serve the people and bring them closer to God.  Sometimes, rich people think that they can buy peace and happiness through wealth and power, and so they do not need God.

Let me share with you a story: A rich woman had a lot of wealth, power, beauty, family, friends, and all that she needed she had.  But there was something she missed, which was real peace and happiness.  She went with her child to see a Guru to discuss her problem.   The rich woman asked the Guru: “Can you tell me: “How can I get real peace and happiness in my life?”  The Guru did not give any immediate answer. While the guru was listening to her, the Guru took one apple and gave it to her child.  The child was so happy.  The Guru took another apple and gave it to her child.  The child’s joy was doubled.  Again, the Guru took one more apple and gave it to the child.  But the child could not hold three apples in both hands at the same time; so, the apples fell to the ground.  The child started to cry.  The Guru told the woman: “The child could not hold the third apple, which made her feel sad.  So, your excess wealth, power, and material things have made you unhappy.”

We all have something in our lives that serves as a major obstacle to happiness and peace.  We must recognize this obstacle and address it head-on.  It may not be riches — it may be anger, holding grudges, alcohol, drugs, and addictions, or unfaithfulness.  Let us invite God into our lives and into our efforts to face that obstacle and lead us to holiness.  In today’s gospel story, Jesus is challenging us and saying to us: “You are lacking one thing…”  Each one has to find out what is that “one thing.” We have to make a decision: whether to go away sad like the rich young man or to follow Jesus and be happy.  Let us choose happiness!

Mother Teresa expressed this sentiment clearly: “Do SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL for God.  Do it with your life.  Do it every day.  Do it in your own way.  But do it!”

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