28th Sun B
The Commentaries Summarised
As a Church we are in a web of wisdom that comes to us both from tradition and contemporary writers. This section offers a summary of some commentaries on the Gospel. Also below is a list of the books and articles that have been consulted in compiling this Sunday's "Pray As You Can" and which could be used for further reading.
This Sunday's Commentary
Last Sunday, we had Jesus’ teaching on marriage that astounded both the religious legalists and his pragmatic disciples with its radicality. In this Sunday’s reading, the longest piece of ethical teaching in Mark’s Gospel, Jesus just as radically re-evaluates the religious attitude to wealth. The wealthy man who so eagerly sought Jesus’ advice would have been firmly in current religious thinking if he believed that his wealth was a sign of blessing from God for his lifelong, devoted adherence to the Law. Jesus, far from regarding wealth as a sign of divine blessing, virtually presents it as a curse. We see the cause when we look closely at what the man had done with his life and what Jesus wants him to do. Aside from honouring his father and mother, all the commandments he has kept have involved just avoiding evil. Jesus wants him to live a positive life. He doesn’t tell him to just divest himself of his wealth, he tells him to give it to the poor. He, who had protected himself by the Law, is now invited to give himself away in love of the other, both the poor neighbour and the person of Jesus. This is not wilful self-destruction because the invitation is given with the gaze of love from Jesus. The look of love from Jesus is important for it is only with that love would the man be capable of such a thing.
The disciples are clearly shaken. The Greek text states ‘astounded’ ‘exceedingly astonished’. They have been following this poor itinerant teacher and wonder-worker who has been preaching a coming kingdom. In spite of all Jesus has been saying, they would have been expecting to come into wealth when it came about. Indeed, Peter expresses their fear, ‘What about us?’ But does he really understand Jesus’ response? Those who have given up all those things and relationships will receive even more in return. Do we?