Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time – October 14, 2012 – Year B

You Lack One Thing

By Dennis S. Hankins

And Jesus looking upon him loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.

Wisdom helps us to contemplate God and our relationship with him. Many vie for our allegiance. Political personalities, movie stars, and sports teams all compete for our undivided attention. However, it is God alone who deserves our complete attention. If God is at the core of our living we learn to be more present and focused on who and what matters most.

Stuff and things also want our attention and promise us an easy life. But power and riches cannot satisfy the hunger of our heart. In each of us is a cavernous space all the gold and silver and precious jewels in all the world cannot fill. Before the beneficent Almighty Lord all the gold in the bowels of the earth is but ‘a little sand.’ And the question as relevant now as when our Lord asked it is, “For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?”

Yet everyday too many live without a true lodestar, the bright and morning star, Jesus Christ. Only Christ through his Church can guide us into true wealth and help us find that love that is durable and immeasurable. It is this wealth Jesus reveals. In him this love is ours if we will follow him; if we will but invite him to be the center of our lives. We need the precious friendship of Jesus. Only He is able to bring us to greatness. He alone can give us the unlimited gifts of faith, hope, and love.

Do you ever lie awake at night and think about a question you’d like to ask Jesus? As we read the gospels we watch many people seek Jesus for healing for blindness, leprosy, and deliverance from demons and death itself. A woman touches the hem of his garment and Jesus touches the leper. No one is denied the touch of his powerful love. But one wealthy man seeks Jesus to ask him what he must do to inherit eternal life. He doesn’t ask for relief from pain and suffering. This precious man asks about his eternal destiny. He asks what he must do to enter the kingdom of God!

A quick review of the commandments reveal how serious this man has been about obeying God. Ever since he was knee high to a grasshopper he has kept the Commandments. Reverently he bows in the presence of the Lord. Everyone watching this scene unfold can feel the mutual love between this man and Jesus. Jesus reaches out to help the man to his feet. He puts his arm around him and gives him a hug he surely will never forget. They walk together and Jesus gently speaks to him words meant to bring him to the warm rays of eternity.

“You lack one thing,” Jesus speaks in a half whisper.

“What? What is it I lack? I’ll do anything!

Jesus slips his arm around the man again as he turns the seeker toward his face. His eyes burn with a fiery love meant to purify. His mouth opens and he speaks with the precision of a two edged sword. He knows the intentions and thoughts of his heart. All things about this man are open to the eyes of Jesus. Jesus does not mean to dissuade. He only hopes to persuade. (Hebrews 4:12-13 and Revelation 1:16)

The man’s heart pounds. Jesus helps him to see a glimpse of eternity with him. Peter and company hold their breath. It seems that the sun stands still. All of creation waits and angels hover to see if there will be rejoicing in heaven today.

And then the air grew thick. The sunshine seemed diminished. All of creation groaned and the angels disappeared. We don’t know his name. We only know that his countenance fell. Jesus hesitates to let go but allows the man to walk away from his embrace. The words of the Good Teacher pound in his head: “You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Like an unbroken record he hears these words repeat over and over and over in his head. And the rich man walked away sorrowful; for he had great possessions.

How difficult it is for those who trust in their possessions to enter the kingdom of God. We must ask God to help us. We must ask him to teach us to understand the brevity of life – to help us to number our days and to help us fill them with the things that matter. It is not wisdom to take short cuts and avoid the weightier matters. What days we are given we should live in hope and prayer and look up at the sunshine and thank the good Lord who provides it. May we not take the goodness that fills our life for granted because we are too busy building bigger places to hold our stuff. (Luke 12:18)

Scripture teaches us that the love of money is the root of all evils and that those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and hurtful desires that plunge its victims into ruin and destruction. The simple pleasures of family and friends and of food, clothing, and a roof over our heads is to be truly rich. And we have many modern conveniences that enrich are way of life as well. But the message today is that God and greed are incompatible. We cannot have two masters. The high road of faith is to understand that godliness with contentment is great gain; for we brought nothing into this world, and we can’t take any of it with us! (1 Timothy 6:6-10)

Amen.

Readings for this Sunday

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