The Gospel reading in church this morning was Mark 10:17-31--the story of the rich man who approached Jesus to ask what he needed to do to "inherit eternal life."
After reminding him of the commandments that related to how we should treat people, Jesus went on to tell him that he only lacked one thing:
"Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
Challenging words to a man who possessed "great wealth."
The man's face fell and he went away in a deep funk because he found the requirement too onerous to fulfill or even pursue.
Jesus went on to instruct those who were with him regarding "how hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God."
In fact, he told them that it was "easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
Those who were with him were amazed, likely alarmed, and concluded that if this were the case no one could be "saved."
Jesus went on to tell them that "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God."
Bottom line: it takes an act of God to save a rich person such as myself in a world of hurt and need like this one!
I guess that is the meaning of the gospel.
That said, it is very, very clear that Jesus expects people who attach themselves to his name to be radically engaged in working with the poor, those in need and those who are oppressed.
I am wondering though. Have you ever known anyone who took this story so seriously that they did what Jesus suggests here? Ever know anyone who sold out, gave to the poor and entered on a more radical path through life? I'd love to hear your stories.