Proper 23 – Year B

Job 23:1-9, 16-17; Psalm 22:1-15; (or Amos 5:6-7, 10-15; Psalm 90); Hebrews 4:12-16; Mark 10:17-31

“Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.” – Warren Buffett

                The rich have different concerns than the poor.  The wealthy man with many possessions in today’s Gospel story has much on his mind.  He is concerned how well yesterday’s investments will turn out.  Will tomorrow’s market be up or down?  He’s looking for the best for his security.  What better to have in one’s portfolio than eternal life?  So he asks Jesus how to get it.  Jesus tells him to give all he has away to the poor and then follow him.  This is not advice for everyone.  Jesus comes across many rich people and does not ask them to give all away.  Evidently wealth was a problem for this particular person, if not for all.  He was in a leaking boat and had better change vessels.  Eternal life, as the kingdom of God here in this life, is characterized by love, compassion, mercy and all the other virtues Jesus advocated.  Now that is being rich, but a different kind of rich.  It is being rich in people rather than in goods.  It may be true that some materially rich people have these kingdom qualities.  And some poor people do not.  We should be careful in judging.  Yet still Jesus says it is hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God (Mark 10:23-25).  In other words, he is saying it is hard for the rich to have kingdom virtues.  It would seem Warren Buffett, one of the richest people in the world, is aware of this.  That is why he has established the Giving Pledge.  It reads: “The Giving Pledge is an effort to invite the wealthiest individuals and families in America to commit to giving the majority of their wealth to philanthropy.”  Those of us who are not all that rich are not off the hook.  In essence the message here is not simply to empty our pockets, but to empty ourselves.  Jesus clearly wants us to empty ourselves by giving ourselves to others, and then God can replenish us with much more (Mark 10:29-30).  Let’s not be like the man in today’s story who was shocked by the request and walked away sad.


                There is nothing significant in the Greek of today’s Gospel that is not already clearly expressed in our translations.


Dispensing mercy,

oh how compassion emptied,

yet now oh how rich.