“What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
In 1922, six of the world’s most successful businessmen held a special meeting in Chicago. They were a group of high-powered specialists who know the secret of making money. There was no doubt about where their alter was. Let us a look at those nine men 27 years later.
Charles Schwab, president of the largest independent steel company, died bankrupt and lived on borrowed money the last years of his life.
Samuel Insull, president of the greatest utility company, died a fugitive from justice, penniless in a foreign land.
Howard Hopson, president of the largest gas company, was insane.
Arthur Cutter, the greatest wheat speculator, died abroad in poverty.
Richard Whitney, president of the New York stock Exchange, was in Prison.
Albert Fall, a member of the president’s cabinet, was pardoned from prison so he could die at home.
All these men knew how to make money, but none of them knew how to live. As Jesus said, “You cannot serve both mammon of God.”
The story of the rich young man is one of the saddest in the gospels. It is the only instance recorded in the gospels of someone who was called directly, personally and individually by Jesus who refused the invitation. The initial encounter was good and promising as he followed all the commandments from his childhood and expected to be acknowledged by Jesus. What more should I do to gain eternal life? Jesus looks straight into his eyes and tells him there is one thing you lack. So he became all the more inquisitive to know about it and Jesus told him that he should “go and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” The gospel says his face fell at these words and went away sad for he was a man of great wealth.
We have in the gospel of Luke chapter 9, 57- where a man comes and tells him master “I will follow you wherever you go”. The Lord said to him that the foxes have holes, the birds of the air have nests but the son of man has nowhere to lay His head. Then to another he said, “follow me”. He responded, let me go and burry my father. To which Jesus answered, “Let the dead burry their own dead but your job is to proclaim the kingdom of God.” Now a third one says I will follow you but let me go and say goodbye to my dear ones. To him Jesus said anyone who puts his hand on a plough and looks back is not fit for the kingdom of God.
Alexander the great was the famous Macedonian King, who practically conquered all the near by kingdoms with his military power, but towards the end of his life he called his ministers and instructed what has to be done after his death. First of all the doctors who treated him have to carry his coffin as they could not save him, Secondly, the coffin will have two holes and through that his hands will be laid bare and empty, because he carries nothing with him. Thirdly, all the precious stones and jewels he had amassed and plundered should be laid on the path of the funeral procession as they are of no use to him anymore.
This has been the fate of so many people who lacked the wisdom o f God at the right time. The Second Reading (Heb. 4:12-13) gives wonderful insights on the word of God and underlines its efficacy and formidable capacity of discernment. God’s living and effective word penetrates to the innermost part of a person and forces him/her to come to grips with what really matters. It scours our entire being, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and reveals the deep truth about God’s love and our gracious destiny.
Jesus is the personification of wisdom and it allows us to discern, often beyond deceptive appearances, what is true, just and good. He comes to reorient lives toward God’s will. Those who open up their hearts to Jesus will receive the gift of a discerning heart and will be empowered by God to make a radical choice for the Gospel.
So learn to accept the primacy of God and his Kingdom: The repeated message of Jesus is very clear – seek first the kingdom of God (Lk. 12:31)! What is it that occupies the core of our hearts? Is it our wealth and possessions? Is it our fame and achievements? Is it our human securities? Jesus simply challenges these ephemerals, and invites us to give God the prime place in our life. It is said that money can buy us a cozy bed but not sound sleep. Money can buy us a variety of food, but not the peaceful ambient to enjoy our meal. Money can buy us a house, but not a home of loving people. Money can buy us books, but not the gift of wisdom.
We do not have to see Jesus’ command to the man – go, sell, give, come, follow – as applying only to money. The one thing in which we are lacking may be something else. We may be lacking in some virtue. We may be proud or selfish or lustful and thus lacking in humility or altruism or purity of heart. We are not blind to ourselves but are sufficiently sensitive to be aware of how we could grow in holiness. We almost certainly know what is the thing lacking in our life and how the Lord is challenging us to grow in following him. As our second reading from Heb. 4:12-13 said, the Word of God shows up our secret emotions and thoughts, everything is uncovered before the Word of God.
When we do respond to Jesus’ challenge, Jesus promises us, as he promised the man in today’s Gospel, “treasure in heaven.” (Mark 10:21) Jesus wants only what is best for us and if we take up his challenge to us, whatever it may be, we can be sure that it will bring us only happiness. We want to do whatever the Lord asks of us, we want to follow him that we may have treasure in heaven.