The story of the rich man in the Gospel of Mark challenges each one of us to reflect on our own lives, to consider whether there may be hidden obstacles that prevent us from saying “yes” to Jesus’ invitation to follow Him. The man in the story has kept all of God’s commandments for many years, but there is one problem that stands in his way: he loves money. He is so attached to his many possessions that he turns away from Jesus rather than give up his fortune.
Wealth was regarded as a sign of God’s blessing in the Judaic culture (cf. Deut 8:18), and this made it very difficult for the disciples to understand Jesus’ comment that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for those with riches to enter the kingdom of God” (Mk 10:25). Why did He say that it would be so difficult? “If those blessed by God with riches will have so much trouble entering the kingdom of God,” they reasoned, “then who can be saved?”
Like the rich man, we too can be tempted to think that we will find happiness in money and earthly possessions. After all, wealth is not evil in and of itself; it can, in fact, be a means to bring about great good in the world. But the love of money may lead us to give in to the temptation to make wealth and the pursuit of possessions a ‘god’, to make money an ‘end’ instead of a ‘means’. This is a danger that is so insidious that it inspired the Apostle Paul to write, “The love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs” (I Tim 6:10). We must love the ‘Giver’, not the ‘gift’, and through faith we rely on God’s promises to give us the strength that we need to overcome this temptation, for with God, nothing is impossible (cf. Mk 10:27).
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Mt 6:19-20).
– Sharon van der Sloot