Rightfully and with great insight did the Church place these inspired Readings together for our meditation! (Meditation is a quest to understand what God is asking, and is a lifelong process). Many people get nervous when they hear Jesus direct the man, or better, invite him, to “go, sell what you have…then come, follow me!” (Mark 10:17-27).
Jesus could see the generous spirit of the man in front of him, and he loved him (v.21). The man was sincere in faithfully trying to follow the Mosaic Law. But his very generosity posed a threat to him, because it brought him great honour in his community. And in the honour and shame society that existed in Palestine, that was something to be prized. So in effect it indirectly became a self-serving spirit of generosity. This was proven to be the case, for the man “went away sad” when he discovered that his possessions had become an obstacle to his own holiness.
The sage in the first reading (Wisdom 7:7-11) goes so far as to teach that gold and silver have a value equal to sand and mud, when compared to the value of wisdom. That wisdom leads us to depend entirely on the Lord, keeping our possessions in perspective like a wise steward. “Give me neither poverty nor riches; [provide me only with the food I need;] lest, being full, I deny you, saying, "Who is the LORD?" Or, being in want, I steal, and profane the name of my God” (Proverbs 30:8b-9; NAB).
There is a rich lesson here for all of us. Our spiritual journey contains one vital component called attitude. Do I try to control God, or do I depend on him and use my gifts wisely? We must battle to gain perseverance, trust and humility. Our Lord is not asking us to pursue physical poverty, but rather to seek poverty in spirit, an attitude of total trust in God’s goodness and generosity