Encountering Truth 26th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year B)

How to “inherit eternal life” 28thSunday of Ordinary Time (Year B)

Wisdom 7:7-11 Psalm 90 Hebrews 4:12-13 Mark 10:17-30

In today’s gospel passage a rich young man asks Jesus, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” The first requirement that Jesus identifies as necessary to gain eternal life is to obey the Ten Commandments. The man responds to Jesus by asserting that he has kept all the Ten Commandments. Jesus then explains to the man that keeping the Ten Commandments is necessary but not sufficient to be saved. More is required.

The more that is required to gain eternal life is to be detached from all one owns. So now we have two requirements to gain eternal life. The first requirement is to keep the Ten Commandments. The second requirement is to be detached from all that one owns.

If we carefully reflect on the gospel passage, though, even if the young man had responded that he was detached from all that he owns and proved his detachment by giving away all he owns to the poor this also is not sufficient to gain eternal life.

There still is another condition that has been identified in a variety of ways. Often the word grace is used to identify this third requirement. Grace comes from a Greek word meaning gift. To gain eternal life, therefore, we must be offered this gift by God. Strictly speaking, we cannot earn this gift, no matter how many good deeds we do because, as Jesus says, “No one is good by God alone.”

As well explained by St. Thomas Aquinas, the reason we are to pray for the grace of final perseverance is precisely because we cannot earn this gift of persevering in the faith to gain eternal life. What we can do, though, is persistently pray for the grace of final perseverance. For this reason, faithfully attending of Mass, daily prayer of the rosary and/or the Liturgy of the Hours, along with other prayers are important ways to ask God for this great gift of persevering in friendship with God, in other words persevering in grace to gain eternal life.

The image of the camel who cannot go through an eye of a needle which Jesus refers to is an excellent image. This image teaches us the importance of being humble, of bowing down to God and asking him to persevere in our friendship with him. As explained by Benedict XVI, a camel cannot go through the eye of the needle, whether a literal needle or a low gate of Jerusalem called the eye of the needle, because of its “proud hump” which prevents it from passing through “the gate of merciful kindness.”[1]

May we let go of our pride, may we let go from any sense of entitlement with God, any expectation that I deserve to be rewarded and then, free from our proud camel humps may we ask God through the intercession of Mary our mother for the gift of final perseverance in our friendship with God, in our friendship with Jesus.

God Bless,

Fr Peter






John O’Neill, “Dromedary camel in outback Australia, near Silverton, NSW,” By Jjron [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons.

Benedict XVI, Day by Day with Pope Benedict XVI, 111.

[1]Benedict XVI, Day by Day with Pope Benedict XVI, 111.

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