Reflection on the Gospel of the Twenty-Eight Sunday In Ordinary Time
The episodes of today’s Gospel express three important approaches. The first episode (10:17–22) portrays riches as an obstacle to discipleship. In the context of Mark’s Gospel discipleship means adopting the itinerant lifestyle of Jesus and his first followers. The particulars of this lifestyle are sketched in Jesus’ missionary discourse directed to the Twelve in Mark 6:7–13. Being with Jesus and sharing in his mission of teaching and healing demand the adoption of the simplest possible way of life (“one staff, no bread, no bag, no money”) and subordinating one’s personal comfort to the mission.
The unspoken assumption is that the rich can become so preoccupied with material goods that these become too important and so distract one from recognizing that God’s kingdom is a divine gift often best appreciated by those who are economically poor.
The next episode (10:28–31) promises rewards to those who take up poverty in the service of Jesus’ mission of proclaiming the kingdom of God. Their rewards are both future or eschatological (“in the age to come eternal life”) and present or ecclesiological (“in this age a hundredfold houses and brothers and sisters …”).
While leaving family and possessions is deeply rooted in the Jesus tradition, Mark alone adds the promise of a new family and new possessions. The family that has been left behind will be replaced by a new family.