One of the people I feel most sorry for is the man who is asked to sell his belongings and follow Jesus. (Mark 10:17-30) He seems to be a good person, wants to be better, but couldn’t say “no” to his wealth. Apparently, he had a good intention but a questionable motivation.
What do I mean by that? Reflection on the Gospel reading might give us an answer. A man runs up to Jesus, and asks him, “Teacher, what must I do to gain eternal life?” Simple question demands a simple answer. Jesus responds, “…Keep the commandments.” So he recites a few of them to reinforce the idea.
The man responds, ” Teacher, I have kept these for a long time.” Clearly the man is not satisfied with the minimum, so he wants a greater challenge. Jesus then gives him one. It is in the response to this choice where the motivation is tested.
Jesus states, “You are lacking one thing. Go, sell what you have and give to the poor…then come follow me.” I strongly suspect that the man gave this some serious thought. One could almost feel the silence. Then the man’s motivation was prompted by his reaction. The Gospel tells us: “The man went away sad, for he had many possessions.” He just couldn’t say “no” to his belongings.
The same choice is given to us in the sense that we are asked to share our gifts (and talents) with others. This is our baptismal responsibility as professed disciples of Jesus. Regarding talents, remember that no one has been cheated. St. Paul brings this out clearly. (I Cor. 12:4-11) All of us can do something that few others can.
The Lord does not expect everyone to be a St. Francis of Assissi giving away all one’s possessions. But he does expect all of us to account for our gifts and talents. The major question then becomes one of “motivation.” Why do we give or keep our gifts/talents?
We have to ask ourselves,”What do I do with my money after paying the bills?” Do I buy some trivial items because I think they might be fun or interesting? Or do I send some money to a missionary group taking care of very poor people in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, or people in these United States?
So much for the money. But what about my gifts/talents? Do I bother to share with others or not? All of us have something to give. For example, singing, playing an instrument, being a good listener, an excellent reader for Mass readings, and the list could go on. Why I do it or not becomes the motivation. Keep in mind that Jesus asks the difficult, but not the impossible.
The man in the Gospel was asked to do the difficult and not the impossible. But he was not ready. He had a faulty motivation in that he was too tied to his belongings. Because of our Baptism, we are also asked to do the difficult by sharing with others our gifts and talents. Our question is constant. What do I do with my money and/or gifts?Only my “motivation” can answer this, be it a “yes” (share it with others) or a “no” (keep it for myself.)