Today we are going to meet a young man who comes to Jesus with a very important question. He wants to know how to deserve a place in heaven. It’s rather interesting, isn’t it? He thinks he’s doing everything right but let’s see what Jesus replies to him. You will find this account in chapter 10 of the Gospel of Mark. Ah! The question of the day! Why was the young man so sad when he left?
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Full text of this story :
A RICH YOUNG MAN
Jesus and his disciples are on their way to another village. They have hardly taken a few steps that a young man comes running. As soon as he is near Jesus, he kneels before Him. He has a question that has been bothering him for a long time .Where will he go when he dies? HE often thinks of heaven and hell, and of course he wouldn’t like to go to hell but he is not sure to go to heaven. He asks Jesus: – Good master, what should I do to earn eternal life, to deserve to go to heaven? – If you want to have eternal life, practice the commandments of God. – And, what commandments? – You know them! For example: do not commit murder, don’t steal, don’t tell lies when speaking about others, do no harm to anyone, respect your father and your mother and t love your neighbour as much as yourself. Well, the young man is rather reassured. – Only this! But, that’s what I’ve been striving to do ever since I was small. What do I still miss? Jesus looks at him with great affection because He sees that this young man really wants to obey the commandments of God, to do what is right but there is something that completely escapes him. Jesus will reveal to him what is in his heart and prevents him from going to heaven. – You see, young man, there is something missing. Go! Sell what you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have a treasure in heaven And then come back and follow me. The young man becomes very sad. He thinks about his luxurious house, its fields covered with olive trees, his vines, and his jewels, his money too. He shakes the head. – But! It is not possible! I will never have the courage to leave it all; I care too much for that! He understands that what fills his heart is his love of his riches. He loves them more than anything, more than God and more than other people. He stands up slowly, turns his back and goes away with a heavy heart. Seeing him go away, Jesus says to his disciples: – Really, I assure you, a rich person will have a lot of difficulty to enter the kingdom of heaven. It’s even more difficult for him than for a camel to go through a city gate. The disciples are very surprised because they believed that for rich people everything was easy. If they are rich, they thought, it is because they are blessed by God. They question Jesus. – If the rich cannot be saved, then who will be who will enter heaven? – It is impossible for men, but what men cannot do on their own, God can do it. He can change the hearts of those who are attached to their wealth and save them. The disciples ponder these words. Suddenly, Peter says: – And us, Lord! You know we have left everything to follow you? What will happen to us? – It’s true, you left everything to follow me but I promise you that you will not lack anything on earth, and one day you will be with me in heaven.
1, 2 3, 4 AND YOU AND ME! Back to our question. He asked us why this young man left all sad. Well, because he understood that God was not in the first place in his life. He loved his wealth more than anything. He left all sad; but, in your opinion, what else could he have done? He could have said to Jesus, “You know my heart, my thoughts, You know I can’t do what You tell me, I don’t have the strength, I love my riches too much; so please help me change my heart so that god may have the first place”, and Jesus would have done it. Indeed, Jesus did not condemn him. He didn’t say: “Oh! It’s over for you, you see how you are, you will not go to heaven, you do not deserve it”. But, with great affection, he showed him his selfishness, and his need to be forgiven by God to go to heaven. I will add one last little word. When you’re rich, do you think you have to sell everything you have to go to heaven? No, we need money to live, but in this story, Jesus warns us that money can get so important it can quickly take the first place in our heart. It is what we call an idol. Not money only can be an idol, there are loads of other things. The problem of idols, it is that they take the place of God in our heart, our life.
4, 3, 2, 1 AND WE PARENTS! In our last talk, we saw that the Kingdom of God belongs to children and those who are like them, who are unpretentious, who do not need to understand everything, who are in a state of simplicity and confidence. Today, in the story of the rich young man, we find out how much adults can find it difficult to enter the Kingdom of God. They want to do something, act to deserve, earn heaven. But it’s an illusion, it’s forgetting the state of our own heart that is unable to respond to God’s will. Eternal life cannot be earned, it cannot be cannot be gained, it is a gift, a gift to be received. As for riches, do the words of Jesus mean that believers should sell everything they own? No, of course! We have to think about our needs, about those of our family and the needs of others. But Jesus warns us that they can quickly become idols and gradually lead us to forget the love of God. There are all kinds of riches, idols. We can meditate on it all and have an exchange on this subject with our children.