Mk 10: 17-22
As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up,
knelt down before him, and asked him,
“Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good?
No one is good but God alone.
You know the commandments: You shall not kill;
you shall not commit adultery;
you shall not steal;
you shall not bear false witness;
you shall not defraud;
honor your father and your mother.”
He replied and said to him,
“Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.”
Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him,
“You are lacking in one thing.
Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor
and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”
At that statement his face fell,
and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.”
From this Gospel, I can gather that Jesus puts value not into observing God’s commandments but also how attached we are to our possessions.
Jesus doesn’t care if you are rich are poor, because both rich and poor people can be attached to their possessions.
Having said that, I’m sure it is easier for a poor person to give up something than a rich person. Poor people live in an environment where they lack many things already. Giving up one more item isn’t going to hurt them.
Rich people on the other hand may go through life working hard for certain things such as house, car, and clothes. If they were asked to give it all up, I would think they’d have to take a longer time considering all that they have to give up.
Jesus, doesn’t concern himself with rich or poor people, because he understands we all get attached to things.
Is money bad?
He doesn’t ask the man, “How much money is in your bank account?”
Money isn’t bad. It’s our attachment to money that makes us forgot about what’s truly important in ones life. Sometimes our attachment is so overwhelming that we try to attain it at all cost. Even if it means stealing or depriving others of what’s rightfully theirs.
Jesus could’ve told a poor man the exact same thing, “Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor
and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”
The man could be poor and if he had one prized possession he couldn’t give up, perhaps a family heirloom, the poor man’s response would’ve been exactly the same as the rich man’s response.
What you have right now isn’t important.
What’s important to Jesus is how attached you are to those things.
Why does Jesus put attachment as one of the things you need to overcome in order to reach Heaven?
He knows that as long as we are attached to earthly possessions, they will always come in the way when we try to be happy.
People have fought and killed over Air Jordans.
Wars have been started over who has the rights to a piece of land.
Family have been divided arguing over inheritance they believe to be rightfully theirs.
Jesus knows that all earthly things are perishable.
They come, they go.
They are built and eventually they erode, diminish, or break.
Nothing we possess lasts for eternity.
Therefore, why place so much of your attention, love, and time onto something that’s a lost cause?
“How do we know if we are attached to something?”
I recently read a book called the “New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle.
He say’s the best way to see if you are attached to something is to pay attention to your thoughts and emotions, the moment one of your possessions is damaged or lost.
For example, whenever you hear that a car got broke into at Walmart. Perhaps you are thinking, “Oh wow, Wal-mart is such a dangerous place. I should be careful. ” Emotionally, there is no investment at all. You just move on right after.
But if that car happens to be yours, perhaps your thinking and emotions will be quite different. “I can’t believe someone would do that. What has this world come to? Why aren’t police officers there when you need them? I need to file a complaint to Walmart, they need security cameras out here. Who else can I blame here for my bad situation? I feel like a victim. I’m not sure I can ever park my car in the public ever again. And I just got this car last month! Why do bad things always happen to me?” And they could go on and on with this. Putting it on facebook. Sharing their frustration with everyone they meet. They go on a personal campaign with the message “the world is really messed up.”
Surprisingly there are people out there who after having their car broke in, you don’t even know it until by some accident it is revealed to you. Perhaps it came up during a conversation of why there are dents on the side of your car. These people deal with what happen. Learn from what happen. And then move on. Emotionally they are somewhat scared and frustrated, but they quickly deal with the situation and then move on with life. They don’t let the incident take over their life.
Attachment to an item can be measured by how much and how long you brood over one of your possessions being damaged or lost.
“Why do we get attached to things and why is it so hard to get unattached?”
When we get attached to something, all it really means is we’ve become identified with it.
That’s my ipod. That’s my car. That’s my shoes.
And whenever an ipod gets damaged, it feels like a part of us has been damaged.
In a way, the possession has become a part of who you are and what you represent.
We have invested a part of ourself, a part of our identity, into that product.
So when that product gets stolen, we feel empty inside because a part of us has just been lost.
When someone puts down our car, we feel like we have to defend our car. Them criticizing our car is similar to them criticizing us. Even though our car has no feelings and would run just fine after being put down. We feel the need to speak up because our feelings have been hurt and we would not run fine after having to put up with their rude remarks.
Our society is obsessed with having and wanting. All we want to do is possess, possess, and possess even more. Attachment has been ingrained into our culture.
Of course, there are some who are more attached to things than others. And even more rare, you’ll find people who aren’t attached to anything at all.
Regardless of where you stand on your degree of attachment, less attachment is always going to bring you more peace, joy, and love.
It’s what Jesus was trying to say in today’s Gospel.