Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity
Amos 5.6–7, 10–15 Psalm 90.12–end Hebrews 4.12–end Mark 10.17–31
The shops traditionally at this time of the year start to fill up with all of those enticing goods that tempt us each Christmas. If you are a youngster your eyes almost pop out of your head as you pass toy shops when out shopping with your parents. Big toys and small delicate toys, toys of all shapes and sizes, these are all paraded before you shouting out ‘Buy Me!’. Many are the tantrums that occur when that stern word, ‘No!’, is sounded by the adult.
Many are the adverts that we see in the magazines and on the television. All of them telling us how much better life would be if we bought ……. How did we manage before ……. Everyone is exclaiming the virtues of ……. (are they? I for one am not). Language designed to tempt, to urge you, almost to mislead you, flies through the media. They are after your money. That is the purpose of the advert.
And so the rich (the manufacturers and the traders) get richer, and the consumer scrimps and saves to buy and so their own wealth reduces.
In todays, Gospel reading Jesus seems to be addressing the rich, those who have amassed great wealth around them, possibly even treading underfoot any who impede their progress. But, Jesus is not speaking to that particular element of society alone. He is speaking to any who are wealthy – not necessarily in money, but in other ways also. He is addressing just how those people use their wealth.
Jesus tells his listeners that they know the commandments. How they should not murder, commit adultery, steal …………… These are also ways in which our own wealth can be increased, albeit dishonestly. The way that we amass our wealth we need to examine. Are we doing it in a just way. Fair Trade products endeavour to produce goods for us to buy which are produced ethically, people at all stages of its production are treated well and rewarded fairly.
The man who had approached Jesus had great wealth. Jesus told him to sell all he had, give the proceeds to the poor and then to follow him in his ministry. Jesus is concerned, not just about how much wealth we have, but how we use it. To surround ourselves with fortune makes a very poor fortification against the wiles of the world. It is how our wealth is put to good use, to help and assist those less fortunate.
But there is something else here. To spend one’s life amassing great fortune to the detriment of anything else is wrong. We are told to have no other God before God. That is the first commandment. To go after the love of wealth is placing that as a god and that above God. The very action actually discourages any further looking for God.
Jesus reveals that the man lives in conflict with the first commandment, to have no other gods before God. His love of his own wealth is enough to discourage him from further seeking the true God.
Our motive is what lives at the root of all. If all that we do is done with the best of intent then we are walking on the right path following our Lord Jesus Christ and giving him our heart – our whole being. There can be no greater gift.
Collect for the Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity.
O God, forasmuch as without you
we are not able to please you;
mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit
may in all things direct and rule our hearts;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.