28th Sunday Ordinary Time – MINE!!!!
MINE!!! Don’t mess with my stuff!!!
Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
We’ve all been there. Don’t take it away from me!!! Whether we say that to another or to God, same basic response to the threat of losing whatever keeps me secure, whomever props up my fragile self-esteem, or whomever complements my desperate ambitions.
That rich man is me. That rich man is you. Let’s look at some of the Greek.
He was shocked (stungazo): The city-state, Tyre, symbolized pride that comes from riches. Tyre was a god who ruled the seas with the ships of Tyre. Until destroyed by Babylon.
Ezekiel 27:33–36 In their wailing they raise a lamentation for you, and lament over you: “Who was ever destroyed like Tyre in the midst of the sea? When your wares came from the seas, you satisfied many peoples; with your abundant wealth and merchandise you enriched the kings of the earth. Now you are wrecked by the seas, in the depths of the waters; your merchandise and all your crew have sunk with you. All the inhabitants of the coastlands are appalled at you; and their kings are horribly afraid, their faces are convulsed. The merchants among the peoples hiss at you; you have come to a dreadful end and shall be no more forever.”
He grieved (lupeo): The NRSV also translates this as “became angry” most of the time. So, David grieved at the death of his son. Jonah raged when God caused the shady plant to die – a trivial matter in which a small luxury was taken from him. Did the rich man feel blue? Or did he rage at the threat of giving away all? Hmmmm.
2 Samuel 19:1–3 It was told Joab, “The king is weeping and mourning for Absalom.” So the victory that day was turned into mourning for all the troops; for the troops heard that day, “The king is grieving for his son.” The troops stole into the city that day as soldiers steal in who are ashamed when they flee in battle.
Jonah 4:9 (NRSV) — 9 But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the bush?” And he said, “Yes, angry enough to die.”
He was shocked and raged because he was having many possessions: The author of the Wisdom of Solomon shows the difference between seeking Wisdom and seeking riches. Later in the book, he identifies a rich person with an idolater.
Wisdom of Solomon 8:5f If riches are a desirable possession in life, what is richer than wisdom, the active cause of all things? And if understanding is effective, who more than she is fashioner of what exists?
Wisdom of Solomon 13:13–17 But a cast-off piece from among them, useful for nothing, a stick crooked and full of knots, he takes and carves with care in his leisure, and shapes it with skill gained in idleness; he forms it in the likeness of a human being, 14 or makes it like some worthless animal, giving it a coat of red paint and coloring its surface red and covering every blemish in it with paint; 15 then he makes a suitable niche for it, and sets it in the wall, and fastens it there with iron. 16 He takes thought for it, so that it may not fall, because he knows that it cannot help itself, for it is only an image and has need of help. 17 When he prays about possessions and his marriage and children, he is not ashamed to address a lifeless thing.
Here’s an application or two for our lives as disciples.
- Take note, please of whatever resistance arises in you at Jesus charge to the rich man – “Go, sell, give…” Sorrow? Fear? Aggressive defensiveness? It doesn’t matter. It’s one way to discover where you are with these outlandish demands of discipleship. Please don’t take away XYorZ!!!
- Here’s another connection in Mark to grieving. It’s stunning. Do the disciples become sad or do they rage at any implications of their infidelity? (Hint: It’s what you and I do when confronted with any discrepancy in our public image)
- Mark 14:18–20 And when they had taken their places and were eating, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” They began to be distressed and to say to him one after another, “Surely, not I?” He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the bowl with me.
I, for one, cannot stand the thought of deprivation, of losing whatever comforts me. Perhaps it’s that way with you. This exercise, this thought problem helps us realize where we are with Christ and what our resistance looks like. Very important.
Notice how the Twelve went nuts – “Look, Jesus, we gave away everything. What do we get out of this discipleship thing…???” We’re in good company.