The Gospel of Mark 10:28-31 is connected to the original question of the rich man who desperately wanted to follow Jesus - “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (10:17) This is really a cry to God. As Jesus says, “Why call me good? No one is good but God alone?” (10:18) So this is a cry from the heart.
Indeed, it is a crucial question that we all grapple with. This is what we ultimately hope for, to gain eternal life. Jesus is gentle with this man and says, “Let’s start with what is required to be a good person, one who seeks to turn his or her life in the direction of God.” Follow the law, the ten commandments. This is basic. In reply the man tells Jesus he has followed the law since his youth. At this point, Jesus sees something admirable and loveable about this man. So, he pushes him further. There is one more barrier that prevents him from finding meaning, purpose, satisfaction in life. His wealth. Can he let go? Jesus was offering him a gift beyond measure - eternal life. The man was too attached to the comforts of his wealthy lifestyle. Sadly, the challenge was too much and he walked away a sad man.
Jesus went on to talk about how difficult it is for a person of wealth to enter the kingdom of God. Here comes the crucial point. “Nothing is impossible for God.” All the man had to do was to put his trust in God and not in his own strength or discipline or commitment. Let God pull you through the eye of the needle.
Finally, we come to the response of Jesus’ closest companions. What about us? We have left everything to follow you! Jesus responds by saying: look beyond the eye of the needle, look at what you have gained by the giving of yourselves to share in my mission. You have come to know a new way of being family. Rather than wealth and material riches, your lives have become enriched through the relationships that have been formed with those who have become part of your lives. This is a family where the least is the greatest and the last is the first because ultimately, we share that life which is centered on God, that life which is eternal here and now and into time everlasting. This is what is only possible for God and only possible for those who are willing to let go and find God through communion with one another in Jesus Christ.
Columban Fr. Tom Rouse provided this reflection.