Sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven. 

Today’s Gospel is a challenging one. Jesus encounters a young man who seems to be doing everything right. He knows and follows the commandments, and he even seems to be acknowledging Jesus’ authority by asking for his guidance. In response, Jesus looks at the young man with love (Mark 10:21), but then invites him to give away all of his wealth and become his disciple. What a position this would put the young man in! He would have no choice but to trust fully in the power and grace of God.

Perhaps this was the reason why Jesus asked this young man to leave all his possessions behind. He knew that the man’s wealth was preventing him from fully surrendering his life to the Lord. No longer would the young man be able to rely on his riches for his security.

This Gospel story probably doesn’t mean that the Lord is asking us to sell all we own, but he is asking us to give generously. He doesn’t want us to fall to the temptation of relying on our money and possessions for security and control. That’s why, when speaking on charity, C. S. Lewis wrote, “I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. . . . If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small” (Mere Christianity, p. 86). Our charity must come not only out of our excess. Rather, it should put us in a position of deeper dependence on the Lord. Too often, our obstacle to charity is not that we can’t live without luxuries but that we fear the thought of not being able to rely on ourselves!

Jesus has issued a bold call to his followers. He wants us to care for people in need. But he also wants us to realize that his call to be generous involves the surrender not just of our possessions but also of our self-sufficiency and our need to control. Today, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and give you the grace to trust that no matter how much it might pinch, he is going to take care of you.

“Lord, help me to be a generous and cheerful giver!”

1 Peter 1:3-9
Psalm 111:1-2, 5-6, 9-10
Mark 10:17-27


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