Each one of us is called to be a disciple of God in different ways, manners and events. The same way God called Abraham, Moses, the prophets in the Old Testament and how Jesus called his disciples in the New Testament. These people give us an example of how we need to respond to the calling of God in our own experiences. The idea of responding to the call of God always starts from our deep desire to follow. This deep desire will help us to have profound and personal relationship in love and trust with Jesus who wants us to be with Him in the Kingdom of God. God can help us to expand our deepest desire in the depths of our humanness and provide with His grace to fulfill this yearning and to reach eternal life.
Who among us does not desire to inherit eternal life? The only way to reach this goal of inheriting eternal life is to follow Jesus, in other words to respond to the call of discipleship. Today, the Gospel presents a rich man who is dutifully following the commandments of God because he desires to achieve the promise of God, eternal life. With love Jesus invited him to be become a disciple but the rich man goes away sad since he would need to abandon his possessions. He had let his possessions possess him. That’s the reason why he walked away disappointed and not able to accept the invitation he received from Jesus. The gospel reminds us that in achieving our desire of inheriting eternal life, Jesus must be more important in our life than anything we have. Through our deep relationship with Jesus, the grace of God will fill our life so that we may trust and keep our faith to Jesus.
The gospel of Mark gives us this example of discipleship in the rich man who was good at observing the law as a way of following God and achieving his desire of inheriting eternal life. Of course, there is nothing wrong with following the Law. Laws are made for order and discipline which are essential for any society. For us as disciples of Jesus, it is also important that we give importance to following the commandments. Recall that this is the first thing the man tells Jesu that he does. Jesus affirms the rich man’s good behavior. The same thing is true today. We need to follow the commandments and Jesus’ law of love. But Jesus tells the rich man that there is one thing more he must do: give up all his possessions and give to the poor. It seems we are being challenged to do the same.
Another contribution of this gospel story is that it reminds us that we need to have a deep desire of inheriting the eternal life but we can only achieve it through the grace of God. Giving up possessions means having a perfect faith which reflects our love and trust in Jesus. This was also lacking in the rich man and it made him sad. Jesus’ invitation to the rich man is the same invitation for us: not only to follow the commandments but to give up anything that may keep us from loving and trusting Jesus completely.
We need always to remember to give priority to God, not to trust in material possessions and to give ourselves completely to Jesus through serving others. To the extent that we can do that, our desire for eternal life will become more achievable, but only by God’s grace.