The Gospel today should probably carry a warning message before it is read. So many saints across the centuries have been cut to the heart when they have heard this proclaimed, and realise that Jesus is looking at us, no gazing with love at them and you and me. He is going to redefine the first three commandments for us in the same way that he did for this running man: go, sell all you have, give the money to the poor and come follow me. This is what it means that there are no other gods, no idols, no graven images, no other name that can claim our allegiance. He is the one. And he wants it all. Not because God needs our stuff – but because we will never be truly free until we can let go of everything else and cling to him alone.
In the Hebrew Scriptures, you find the idea first with Abraham and Melchizedek in Genesis 14, then developed in the book of Deuteronomy in chapters 12, 14 and 26 (offering of the first fruits of the harvest) and then a much more carefully defined idea in the final minor prophet Malachi where the teaching on the tithe (ten percent of income) is presented the most clearly. In the Christian scriptures, although the idea of the tithe may still be presumed, the notion of giving back to the Lord is much more radical – to give it all away. So what should we make of all this?
Recorded at St Paul’s (with a heavy cold – sorry)
Sunday 28, Year B. Mark 10:17-30