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28th Sunday
Do you want to go to heaven?  Most Catholics will say “yes, of course!” – we want to go to that “place,” reach that point of being surrounded only by peace and bliss that do not end.  Even non-believers, while not calling it heaven, surely aspire to that most wonderful state of life where there are serenity and security that simply flow continuously.
The gospel today (Mark 10:17ff) must count as one of the most moving encounters in the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was pursued by a man, some say a young man, whose one burning question in mind was salvation.  How do I get to heaven?  What must I do to gain eternal life?  This man hit the nail on its head.  He found the right source person.  Jesus knew so well and wanted to guide him to his destiny.
What reply did Jesus give?  First, Jesus pointed to the commandments.  He reviewed before this man what the commandments enjoin people to do.  Honor your parents, and do not wrong your neighbor by killing, adultery, lies, deceit and others.  That was easy enough for the inquirer here, for he has been following these precepts since his youth.
Just when we think that the commandments are passé and old-fashioned, we are reminded today that this is really the first step in preparing ourselves for a life with God in eternity.  Following the commandments is not a tedious observance of freedom-limiting laws, but a gateway to a life with God. This was easy for the young man.  Is it easy for us today to follow the commandments of God?
But there was a second step Jesus outlined for his guest.  The Lord said:  sell all you have and give to the poor.  This was a big blow to the man, for he was very rich.  Following the commandments was easy because all you had to do was obey the traditions handed down to you, act according to the approving gaze of the people around.  You can do these things in conformity with the norms, not as impulse of the heart.  But to give?  That will surely hurt!
How true is the sentiment of the young man even in our own situation today.  How much easier it is to do the right thing approved by society and church, by our family and friends.  If you follow the commandments, people applaud you and congratulate you and you feel accomplished.  But to give is difficult because it will make you less. It will make you miss what’s precious to you. It will mean denying yourself some pleasures.  And yes, who will know that you gave?
Is Jesus against riches?  No! Jesus is practical.  You cannot bring anything beyond the grave.  You cannot buy fulfillment and peace.  You cannot live a self-centered life and feel accomplished.  What makes you afraid to share your blessings?
These two are twin-practices that make us ready for heaven:  the commandments and generosity.  Will we go away sad like the young man?  Or will we now go away certain that we have discovered the path to real happiness?