Mark 10:17-30 | 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B
What’s Your Weak Spot? What Would Make Your Face Fall?
To go through the eye of the needle in ancient times was to enter through the narrow openings to the side of the city gates. For a camel, the pack animal of choice, to get through this opening, the owner had to strip it of everything it carried. The animal might make it through, but the extraneous stuff wouldn’t.
In this gospel passage, that’s Jesus’s challenge—we have access to heaven, but we don’t get to take our baggage. Now, I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of baggage. Some of it, I am happy to give up, and some of it, I want to keep. Even some of the stuff I think I’d be happy to leave behind I just don’t seem to release, on a permanent basis anyway. And that’s what Jesus wanted us to think about.
In this story, the rich young man followed all the commandments, but when Jesus challenged him to get rid of his belongings, the young man faltered. We are just like him. There are many things we do a t—maybe we help others, or feed the poor, or volunteer in the community. But there is some thing we hold back. Maybe we don’t want to let go of our belongings or we hold on too tightly to money. But maybe that’s not our weak spot. Maybe our weak spot is holding on to a grudge or something else altogether. Jesus challenges us to discover our weak spot and then face up to it.
Not being willing to face up to his weak spot was this young man’s failing.
When Jesus told him exactly what he was “lacking” (v. 21), the young man’s face fell, which is natural. To be told to give up what it is I hold most dear would make my face fall too. That the young man’s face fell meant Jesus had hit the nail on the head. Where he failed was that he tucked his tail and “went away sad” (v. 22) in apparent defeat.
We don’t see any more of the young man’s story. Maybe he thought about it, realized Jesus was right, and then sold everything he had and gave the money to the poor. Maybe he got home, realized he did have too much stuff, and over the next few decades gave it away. Maybe he realized he had too much, made a pact with himself not to buy anything else, and then gave away the money he would have spent. Or maybe the end of the story is that he did leave completely unchanged.
Jesus wants us to be changed by our relationship with Him, so He wants us to see ourselves as He sees us. Sin isn’t having the weak spot. Sin is being unwilling to see or to try to change it. What do I value more than my relationship with God? That’s the thing that has the power to keep me from getting through the eye of the needle. While we might not be able to ask Jesus in person, we can certainly go to Him in prayer—if we really want to know. We just have to remember that, like the young man, if we ask Him, He will tell us. We have to be ready for His answer. We have to realize that the answer will make our face fall, just like the young man’s. Will we go away sad? Or will we try to see it Jesus’s way?