Mk 10:17-30 or 10:17-27
Watch a video with homily suggestions
The manifold demands and activities of life can often obscure our understanding of what among them is most important. As the second reading indicates, it is the Word of God that cuts through the fog and enables us to discern clearly what matters most.
The gift of “wisdom,” to which the first reading refers, is actually Christ himself. He is the Word, the Wisdom, the perfect image of the Father, the ultimate desire of our hearts. He himself is the Kingdom of God, and the possession above all our possessions. Both the first reading and the Gospel point us to him and urge us to desire him, and value our relationship with him, above all things.
That relationship, that possession of the Kingdom that comes by following him, depends concretely on our keeping of the commandments. It is no accident that the first commandment Jesus mentions in this Gospel passage is “You shall not kill.” The man is asking how to possess God, and Jesus is helping him to avoid a spirituality disconnected from earth. The man must have imagined that Jesus was going to give some spiritual answer upon which he could then go home and meditate, all the while enjoying his many possessions. But Jesus anchored the demands of the man’s spirituality right down to earth, asking him what he was doing and what he intended to do in relationship to people and things around him that he could see, hear, and touch. The relationship with God, as Jesus taught it, rises and falls with our relationship to others – and the first demand of those right relationships is not to kill the other.
As the passage progresses, it becomes clear that “Do not kill” is only the pre-requisite, not the fulfillment of perfect love. Love demands that we seek the least, the poorest. “Give to the poor” and “follow me” are in the same breath, not because discipleship demands that we own nothing, but precisely because discipleship demands that we give of ourselves for the other – especially for the smallest.
Here, then, is revealed the wisdom of being pro-life. What we possess – not only material goods, but career and reputation and friendship as well – can never be clung to at the expense of ruining our relationship with God. If we fail to serve the least – the most vulnerable human beings – and instead kill them, or tolerate their killing – then everything else we have as a result is false security and false joy.