What’s in it for me? Tuesday, 8th Week in ordinary time – Mk 10:28-31
The text of today forms the third part of Jesus teaching on riches (10:17-31). The point being made by Jesus must be seen in the larger context of discipleship and wealth. For Jesus, the attachment to wealth is clearly an obstacle to discipleship. As he will say in scripture, “you can’t serve God and man”.
The text just before this speaks about the rich young man who walks away ‘shocked’ and ‘grieving’ for he was attached to his possessions and the demands of discipleship were too much. Again it is not his wealth that is condemned but his attachment to it.
Peter picks up where the rich man left. While the rich man could not sell all he had, Peter speaks up as a spokesperson for the disciples ‘juxtaposing their actions to the missed opportunity of the rich man’.( JBC) Peter cries out that he and the other disciples have given up everything to follow Jesus; their families and their livelihood, so what was their reward? At the back of his mind Peter was asking the age old question, ‘what’s in it for me’?
Jesus uses this incident as a means to teach his disciples that the mere renunciation of wealth itself does not guarantee salvation. Poverty in itself cannot and should not be a virtue. In this light, discipleship is not merely a matter of asceticism. The call of Jesus to the young man was not merely to ‘give up everything’ just to have nothing, rather it was to give up everything so that others may have something.
Remember Jesus called the man to give his possession for a cause, namely the poor. It was a new way of living discipleship that was on Jesus’ mind, one where everyone was cared for and Peter and the disciples have fulfilled the conditions that the rich young man did not. Hence Peter and the disciples will receive their reward both in this life and then next.
Yet Jesus reminds Peter that discipleship still comes at a cost and that those who choose to follow him will face persecution. To the world this teaching may sound absurd and bizarre but Jesus assures Peter and the disciples that the last word belongs to God. For the last shall be first.
Fr Warner D’Souza
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