A wife once had a husband who had an abundance of wealth which led to so much greed. He cared so much for his money and spending it on himself. When he became very ill, he made his wife promise to bury him with every single dollar and cent he owned. Being a faithful wife, she agreed. Her wealthy husband died and on the day of his burial, right before they sealed the casket, the wife brought a shoebox and placed it with her dead husband. The casket was sealed and was lowered to the ground. Friends of the wife, knowing the deceased husband’s request asked the wife, “I hope you weren’t crazy enough to put all that money in there with that stingy old man.”
She said, “Yes, I promised. I’m a good Christian. I can’t lie. I promised I would put all that money in the casket with him.”
The friend said, “You mean to tell me you put every single dollar and every cent of his money in the casket?”
“I sure did,” said the widow. “I got it all together, put it in my bank account and I wrote him a check.” This story proves that you can never have a U-Haul behind a Hurst.
What did the rich young man mean when he asked the Lord, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” In scripture, eternal life is that which makes life complete and rewarding. Eternal life is the exciting possibility of unending joy.
When we ask Jesus the question about eternal life and our ultimate future, it makes us look at life’s horizon that is not limited or fleeting, but broad and deep. To ask Jesus about the ultimate destination makes us contemplate the only thing important in life, not what we acquire, not what we add to our list of achievements, not the number of plaques and buildings named after us, but the relationships we have tirelessly fostered that shape our encounter with Christ!
We may not be rich monetarily, but we are rich with talents, insights, gifts, experience which we can share with others. In this giving away of ourselves, we enrich the lives of others who may not have been enriched, we find quality in life, we discover meaning in life. When we give away everything we have, we say with Blessed Giorgio Frassati, “I want to live and not simply exist.”
When the rich young man knew he could not sell his possessions he went away sad because he knew he lacked the courage to follow Jesus. In his walking away, Jesus tells his disciples that it is easier for the camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.
The side gate in the Jerusalem temple was meant for the passage of animals into the holy city. It was a narrow gate. It was known as the eye of the needle. For camels to pass through, the owner had to unload all the baggages attached to the camel for it to fit through the narrow gate. It is easier for camels to pass through the narrow gate in the holy city than it is for the wealthy to enter God’s kingdom.
I personally love this account of the rich young man because it is only in Mark’s account where we hear how Jesus looked on him with love. Jesus knows the mistakes we make, Jesus understands our disappointments and our pain, Jesus knows we are frail and weak sinners, yet, he gazes on us with love! It is a love that helps us overcome our trials. It is a love that invites us to return to him. It is a love that calls us to the joy of the gospel, namely, if we have really encountered the authentic Jesus we cannot help but bear witness to him before those who have not yet met his gaze.
Here at Eucharist, we encounter Jesus in order that we may bear our heart to him, for he is Wisdom whose “splendor never yields to sleep” and whose presence brings all good things and countless riches in our hands (cf Wisdom 7:7-11). Encountering Jesus is not just a “good feeling” type of religion. Encountering Jesus is encountering the one whose word is living and effective who is sharper than a two-edged sword. He penetrates our whole being even to our bones and marrow (cf Hebrews 4:12-13).
He gazes on us with love. He does not say to us, “Do what I say!” He says, “Come follow me!” The Almighty God became poor so that we might follow after him. The Almighty God gives his life away. He invites us to do the same, to share our lives with others, to foster the encounter with Jesus. Fill us with your love and we will sing for joy! So let us sing. Sing because we have asked Jesus the most important question we can ever ask him. Sing because we dare to follow him and fill that very longing in our hearts. Sing because we wish to live and not simply exist.