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Jesus’ ‘to do list’ is not always easy

Gospel of Mark: 10:17-30

“Oh, that’s asking a lot!” That must have been what the young man in this Sunday’s Gospel thought after he asked Jesus what he must do to get to heaven.

The young man was rich. He was a good young man who obeyed his parents, treated others with kindness, did not steal or cheat, always told the truth and always tried to follow God’s commandments.

One day he asked Jesus, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus looked at him lovingly and saw his goodness. Jesus said, “There’s one thing you still need to do. You must sell what you have and give to the poor. Then, come and follow me.”

Sadly, he turned and walked away, rejecting the invitation to discipleship. He had built his happiness around his riches. Jesus recognized that and opened the door to freedom, but the rich, young man preferred his comfort; he couldn’t let go of his wealth in order to grasp the Lord’s hand. Jesus was asking for the young man’s heart, not just that he follow God’s commandments.

In the Letter to the Hebrews, Jesus is portrayed as “the living and effective word of God,” and describes what we see in the Gospel: Jesus discerning the thoughts of the rich, young man and the disciples, encouraging his disciples to make wise decisions and continuing to teach and save.

Jesus isn’t against money. Riches and money themselves are not the problem. It’s when they become the most important part of people’s lives that cause the trouble. Jesus just wants us to love him and others more than we love money or things.

To know and obey the commandments is not enough. For every commandment that tells us not to do something, there is something we are to do. Here’s Jesus’ “to do” list: Pray, forgive, share, help, give and love!

Wow! Doing everything on that list is not always easy. But, in this the Year of Faith, the call has come to us from Pope Benedict XVI, the bishops, the clergy and prominent Catholic lay people to really live our faith in order to stem the tide of aggressive secularism overtaking our culture. The call to us is to discipleship!