This homily is based on Mark 10:17-30.
One may come away reading today’s Gospel with the sinking feeling that the Lord makes too many demands. Here we meet a rich young man who desires to be good. He runs up to Jesus and asks eagerly: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus’ answer is clear and straightforward: “Follow the commandments.” In other words, it’s fairly simple–just choose good over evil. It’s what’s asked of every one of us.
But the young man reports that from his youth he has been doing just that. It is here that Jesus, we are told, “looks at him with love.” It is a look of appreciation, but also one of invitation. For it is at this point that the Lord calls him to do something more if he so wishes: To choose the greater good.
We know the ending. The young man turned away because, we are told, he had too many possessions.
Much has been said about how riches get in the way of following Jesus. And indeed it is true: Unless we are willing to let go of them, our attachments–both material and otherwise–can certainly keep us away from the Lord.
But what struck me while reading the Gospel story today was not so much the problem of riches, but the invitation of the Lord: the call to the ‘greater good’. This is what we usually refer to as God’s Will: God’s Will–what He wants from an individual–is always the greater good.
The greater good is different for each person. For one, it might be to get married and start a family; for another, it is to enter religious life. These two options are good, but God’s Will–the greater good–is different for each one.
While we are obliged to be moral, to “follow the commandments,” to choose good over evil, we are merely invited to the greater good, to follow the Lord. And while a sense of duty or obligation is enough to prod one to choose the good, it takes much more than that to follow the greater good. It takes love.
Let us pray for a twin grace today: First, that we may discern and discover the greater good that God has in store for us; and second, that we might fall more deeply in love with the Lord so that we may choose the greater good that He calls us to.