Tony E Dillon Hansen
14 October 2018
A reflection based upon Job 23:1-9, 16-17 • Psalm 90 • Mark 10: 17-31
Will you pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our Rock, Our Redeemer. Amen.
Many people like to use this story and the prosperity theology, especially some more prominent tele-evangelists, to help solicit gifts and money because Jesus says to sell everything and give to the poor – and well, I am not exactly rich so you could give the money to the nearest poor person (aka me.) You don’t have to worry about me doing that today. I am however going to challenge you with this text from an interfaith perspective.
For sure, our lectionary gives us a lesson about wealth, but also a lesson about spirit, suffering and pride.
Let’s look at the exchanges here.
First the man asks Jesus what does one do to “inherit eternal life” and be “saved.”
Jesus says to follow that commandments and this invites the next part.
The guy says, “I have done this all my life.”
That sounds like something most of us would say .. well maybe a couple exceptions lurking around this room right?
If you have done everything you were told to do, What is left?
Is that it? Seems like something is missing?
Jesus says to sell everything and give it away and then “you will have treasure.”
Jesus does not stop there and says something really profound.
“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God”
Meaning that such a man cannot enter the kingdom of God because you cannot squeeze a camel into the eye of a needle --unless the camel is really small.
The disciples hearing this, chime with a version of, “Hey, we have done this and where is our treasure?” Is this a prideful remark or just a really good question?
When is the payoff? When do we get what we are owed?
Incidentally, Who owes you anything and why?
Does God owe you anything? Does anyone really owe you except maybe that $5 bucks you lent out that will never get back? Does $5 really matter?
Why does Jesus say this?
If you have wealth, bless you for your good fortune, but perhaps, your focus is and has been upon the wrong thing. If you focus upon what you have accumulated, or even what you do not have, your focus is upon what you attach your personal worth and value. Your focus is upon your pride.
Jesus reminds us that we are all children – you and I have just aged a bit.
Remember the days of youth, when you just embodied fun, life and just being.
What Jesus says is similar to the Buddhist idea expressed in the Four Noble Truths. That life is suffering, but that our suffering is caused by our attachment or clinging. Our relief of suffering is by detaching – letting go of those attachments. Life happens and we cannot control it but we can control how we respond to it -- how we respond to God. Further, a path to alleviate that clinging involves living, speaking, thinking and being the right way and that can start in meditation and prayer and living the commandments.
Yet it is more than just words and code, Jesus and the Buddhist idea tells us to embody what we believe and detach from our pride.
Think about it, Job spends most of his story lamenting all the bad things that happened to him, and I have been right there with him wondering why things go bad. When all seemed lost, Job just lets go of his pride, lets go of his suffering, and lets God.
What Jesus tells us here, along with our traditions, is that pride can be destructive because that pride is essentially hiding the child within us with a cloak of envy, privilege, and our “social expectations.” When you let go of that and let God really into your heart, then some beautiful things can happen.
When you let go, detach, and Let God, then you just might remember the first time you were able to ride a bike, really enjoyed ice cream, or just smelled a beautiful flower because you were completely in the moment.
When we let the aches and pains guide our focus (we all have plenty of those), we lose our inner child. When we let our material define us, then we lose who we truly are meant to be.
Our focus can be instead upon the gifts we have and the love that is poured out for us.
The kingdom of God is not past us, not beyond reach, and not found in our wealth.
The kingdom of God that you seek does not belong in the past.
The kingdom of God starts here and now – in this moment.
The kingdom of God starts with you letting go of pride.
The kingdom of God starts with your smile and letting go.
Go ahead and smile and be in this moment.
The kingdom of God can be found through letting go of everything you fear,
letting go of everything you want,
and letting go of everything that is not you.
This is not easy stuff, but know that
The kingdom of God starts in your beautiful, slightly-stained heart.
Yes, the kingdom of God can be found in you, in this moment and in this place!
Smile you beautiful, broken older child
And have peace.
Thanks Be to God.