St. John Fisher Roman Catholic Church

30 Jones Hollow Road, Marlborough, CT 06447

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time B21

“What must I do to inherit eternal life?”[1]  


You cannot inherit eternal life on your own. Inherit means “to receive from an ancestor or to receive from a predecessor”[2]. It’s ours as a gift, freely given by God as heirs, won for us by Jesus Christ through his death and resurrection. It’s not a business transaction by which we make a deal with God, a kind of “tit for tat” or in Latin, “quid pro quo”.

At the same time, you must do EVERYTHING!  Jesus tells the young man he must keep the commandments, mostly by not doing something. But Jesus only quotes the commandments that are concerned with human relationships; nothing is said about a relationship with God. But nonetheless there is something lacking: “Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”[3] Jesus is asking him to radically put his trust in God’s care and providence before inviting him to be a part of his community of faith! Although Jesus loved him, the young man went away sad for he had many possessions of which he couldn’t let go. I believe Jesus was sad as well.

What can we learn from this interaction? The point is not to criticize the young man but to evaluate our own relationship with our material goods. Of course, not many of us can afford to sell all that we have and rely on the goodness of others; we have to provide for ourselves and our families. But, think: Does ownership allow us to live free from worries and give or does it become a burden and make us worry about its loss, checking the stock market or interest rates every day; do our comfortable houses include wide open doors or do they become fortresses? Do we share our good fortune or hoard it?

“I prayed, and prudence was given me; I pleaded, and the spirit of wisdom came to me.” (Wisdom 7:7)


[1] Mark 10:17.

[2] The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, fourth edition, © 2000 Houghton Mifflin Company.

[3] Mark 10: 21. Care for the poor is foundational in the Gospel, building on what was said in the Jewish Scripture.

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