Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle B

Twenty Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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 Mark 10:17-30

“How hard … to enter the kingdom of heaven”

Jesus preached constantly about the kingdom of God – the reign of God’s love amongst us. The marks of this kingdom are truth and justice, love and reconciliation, equality and peace. Especially close to the kingdom and to God’s concern are the poor and weak, the needy and oppressed, the most vulnerable people of this world. To accept the values of the kingdom is to share the concern of God. We see this clearly revealed in the very way Jesus himself constantly sought out those who were rejected, left on the margins of society. It is against this background that we hear the words of Jesus today.

The man who approached Jesus to ask about eternal life was a good man; he had kept the commandments all his life and now he wanted to know what more could he do “to inherit eternal life”. In reply, Jesus pointed to the values of the kingdom, “go and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor”. A disciple of Jesus is expected to do more than simply “keep the commandments”; he was invited to take up the cross and follow Jesus. But for this “man of great wealth” this was too demanding an invitation. He walked away, drawing from Jesus the warning that it is “hard for those who have riches to enter into the kingdom of heaven”.

There are times when our own following of Jesus presents us with invitations that are demanding – though not always to do with riches! To accept the values of the kingdom is, before all else, to accept God’s utterly freely-given love and to reflect it in our lives: to love God with all that we have and all that we are, and to love our neighbour as ourselves. This may indeed make financial demands on us, but it may demand instead the giving of our time, the sacrifice of our freedom, the surrender of our security. Whatever, the lesson is the same: how hard it is to enter the kingdom of heaven without some cost.