A Lectionary Reflection on Mark 10:17-31 For Proper 23B / Ordinary 28B
We humans love law. Law is easy. We either do it or we don’t, and if we do, we can check each righteous act off on the list, marking, for all to see, how good we’ve been. It’s so satisfying, and it gives us the added benefit of feeling like we’re on God’s side. We don’t really have to change anything. We can still hate those who aren’t as good as we are at filling their righteousness lists. We can still surround ourselves with enough creaturely comforts to shut out the images, the noise, and the stink of poverty from outside of our tastefully painted walls. We can still worship on Sunday with a clean conscience, and magnanimously put some of our wealth into the offering plate to help those poor people who live in said poverty. It’s all so very neat and clean.
Except for the nagging voice in our souls that tells us that this is not what it’s really about, that there’s actually more to life, that we can be more than our legalistic comforts suggest. Perhaps it was just such a voice that drive that wealthy man to Jesus that day. Perhaps, he had finally decided that this time he was going to give his life to something meaningful, something that would make a difference. How exciting it must have been when Jesus asked him about the law – he could do that! He had already been doing that for his whole life! This would be easier than he thought!
But, then Jesus said more, and that’s when the trouble started. Sell everything and give it away? Then, with nothing but the clothes on my back (I am allowed to keep those, right?) follow Jesus? This was unreasonable. It was impossible. But, this was what he was being asked – and he just couldn’t do it. So, the nagging voice would remain. The comfortable, protected world he lived in would be a little less comfortable, but he wouldn’t think too much about that.
The ease of following the law
The challenge of giving our hearts to the kingdom & the difficulty when we’re too invested in the system. (In what ways are we invested in the system?)
The hope in God’s transformation & the hope of a new kind of wealth – the wealth of relationship in God’s Reign.