One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

October 15, 2006

For the Twenty-Eighth Ordinary Sunday of the Church Year

Mark 10:17-30

Jesus traveled practically non-stop during his public ministry in the final months or years before he died and rose in glory.
The Gospels name some of the persons Jesus dealt with during those months of travel and preaching.
We know the names of several women who, out of their own wealth, provided for the Lord and his twelve apostles.
One of these women, Joanna, was the wife of the administrator of the royal palace.
Joanna may have been one of the women whom the Gospel again mentions as the Lord’s benefactors who watched him die on the cross, and provided supplies for his burial.
In fact, Joanna is openly named as one of the women who saw the angels at the tomb on Easter morning and went to tell the apostles.
After the Lord’s Resurrection, Ascension and Pentecost, Joanna remained one of the famous figures in the first days of the Church.
So, her name is preserved more than once in the Gospel.
Today Jesus meets a man who possessed great wealth, but whose name no one in the Gospel seems to have bothered to find out, much less remember, unlike the name of Joanna.
The rich man wants to know what he must do to have eternal life.
Jesus begins to give what at first seems an easy answer.
If you want eternal life,
keep the commandments!

Then Jesus begins to recite the commandments for the man who is kneeling in front of him.
A strange thing, however!
The Lord skips the first THREE commandments.
There are TEN commandments.
The first THREE commandments are vertical, referring us to God himself.
First. I am the Lord, your God. You shall not have other gods besides me.

Second. You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God in vain.

Third. Remember to keep holy the Lord’s day.

Our Lords skips over these first three commandments.
That is strange, because the man wants to know what he must do to inherit eternal life.
Those are the three commandments that deal vertically with God.
Instead, Jesus tells the man to keep the other seven commandments— the horizontal ones that tell how to deal with human society.
The rich young man now tells Jesus that he has always obeyed those seven last commandments.
Jesus answers him, “You are lacking in one thing.”
You would think that now the Lord is going to tell him he has to obey also the three vertical commandments, the ones that deal face to face with God.
Instead, the Lord now gives him a commandment that is both horizontal and vertical.
If you would be perfect,
go, sell what you possess
and give to the poor…
and come, follow ME!

Jesus does not tell him to obey the first three commandments.
The first commandment is:
The Lord is your God. You shall not have strange gods before him.

Instead, Jesus tells the rich man:
Come, follow ME!
I am the Lord your God.
You shall not have strange gods before ME.
Come, follow ME!

That is too much to ask.
So, the man goes away in sorrow, forgotten and unnamed, unlike Joanna the famous, wealthy benefactress and disciple of the Lord.
Joanna abandoned the palace and a society-page reputation to follow a homeless preacher, spending her wealth to support him in life and death.
Joanna risked everything to go follow Jesus of Nazareth as Lord and God.
If you and I are to have eternal life, we must keep the commandments because Jesus says so.
Then, we must also value Christ more than anything else— more than houses, siblings, parents, children, or country.
Everything must take second place to Christ.
He called himself “The Truth and the Way and the Life.”
He repeats the commandment to follow him as Lord and God by giving us his Eucharistic Flesh and Blood.
What must we do to have eternal life?
He tells us:
Unless you eat my flesh
and drink my blood,
you have no life in you.
He who eats me
will live because of me,
for I am the Lord your God.

To agree to receive him in his Eucharist is to commit to following him and leaving everything else in second place at best.

That God Be Glorified in All


Anonymous Bob Farrell said...

What's your take on verse 30?

Is it something along the lines that "you will be provided everything you need"? Assuming of course, there is utility in persecutions.

6:53 PM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

[verse 29]:

Jesus said, "Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel

[verse 30]:

who will not receive a hundred times more

houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions,

and eternal life IN THE AGE TO COME.


The seven last commandments govern life "now in this present age."

To go and follow Jesus because he is "the Lord your God" one must be ready to undergo persecutions.

Jesus, Lord and God, is the one from whom-- "in the age to come"-- we "inherit eternal life"

8:14 PM  

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