Readings: Wisdom 7:7-11; Psalm 89/90; Hebrews 4:12-13; Mark 10:17-30
'What is to be adored?' It is another way of putting the man's question. What good is there to which I can give myself fully so as to inherit eternal life? What good is proportionate to such an inheritance?
Jesus' first response is to say, 'well nothing in this world'. There is no such good except in God.
But God has given us the way by which we can journey towards Him - he has shared His Wisdom (first reading), given us His Word (second reading), He has sent His Son (gospel reading).
'You know the wisdom God has taught you already', is Jesus' second response. It is in the commandments. This is the natural law, more or less known to all human beings: do not kill, or commit adultery, or steal, or lie, or defraud, and honour your parents.
'I've been following this way', the man says, 'all my life'. Jesus looked at him and loved him. In this the most profound reality is revealed: in heriting eternal life is not something we guarantee for ourselves by our actions or our dispositions. Eternal life is to know God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent. This knowledge in us follows on our being known by God, being regarded by Him, being loved by Him.
So in his third and final response to the man Jesus says, in effect, 'you inherit eternal life by becoming like me because in doing that you begin to live the life of God'. Give all you have to the poor and follow me. This complete detachment opens us to transcendence, to God, to the only good worthy of our adoration. We move into this detachment by giving all we have to the poor as God has given to us all that He has - His eternally begotten and only Son.
The disciples then join the conversation. 'You are saying it is impossible', because we are all rich, perhaps not in money but in other ways - power, influence, esteem, intelligence, knowledge, etc. How would we ever be able to give it all away to the poor so as to follow Jesus in such total freedom and detachment?
It is impossible, Jesus agrees. The disproportion is too great between what you need to do and what you can do. But everything is possible for God. It is God's gaze, God's love, God's knowledge of us that opens us to the possibility of eternal life. God being among us in His Son: this is the good thing that makes it possible for us to inherit eternal life.
We are called to walk on the water towards Him, on the path of faith, with trust and hope, opening ourselves to a goodness beyond our imagination. The poor are always with us, reminding us of this teaching and calling us to an ever deeper following of Christ.