Reflection on This Week’s Readings

LIMITLESS POSSIBILITY

For the young, life can feel like a limitless landscape of possibilities. It can seem there is nothing we cannot do or become if we simply set our minds to it. But as we age, the possibilities may appear to shrink, whether through the choices we make or through the limits of a world beyond our control. At certain points in life, we may look at ourselves—who we are and what we have become—and see not possibilities but, rather, inevitabilities. It may seem impossible to live any other way than how we are currently living or for people to see us in any other way than they currently do. We may struggle to see any way beyond our habits or patterns, our history, or our current roles.

In today’s gospel, Jesus invites a man to leave behind everything he has known and thought about himself to become Jesus’ disciple. To the world, the man is defined by his wealth, but Jesus sees the man behind the possessions and loves him. He sees past what seems inevitable about the man, to what God can make possible. Yet, tragically, the man can only see the world’s vision of him, a vision of limited possibilities. When Jesus calls him to leave his wealth behind, the man thinks he is being asked the impossible and goes away heartbroken.

In the Christian assembly, the voice of Christ calls us to look past one another’s worldly inevitabilities to the divine possibilities present among us. No matter what moment of life we are in, it is never too late. No matter what our history of failures or addictions, there are still more chances. No matter what we have been to this point, there is still something new we can become. Jesus calls us to leave ourselves behind in order to follow him, to rediscover who we are with a God for whom all things are possible.

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READINGS FOR THE TWENTIETH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
Lectionary 28, Year B
Mark’s gospel anticipates the coming of the eschaton, for which we prepare by countercultural lives of ethical justice. We are glad for the forgiveness we will receive at the table.
Christians receive the traditional biblical commandments, and yet we know that we cannot keep them. With the Spirit’s help, together we become a new family and follow Christ, who radically alters cultural values. We are grateful that Jesus looks on us with love. Since Mark’s community met for worship in houses, this passage may include reference to the gift of the church in the lives of believers.
The Amos passage is chosen to parallel the gospel reading because both include a call to economic justice. Even though we profess to obey the commandments, we must hear that our sins are great.
The readings from Amos and Mark are indeed two-edged swords, piercing our self-assurance with the truth of our neglect of the poor. We are laid bare before God; however, Christ, our high priest, stands with us and shows us God’s grace.

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