Reflection on This Week’s Readings


The man who approaches Jesus in today’s gospel had followed all God’s laws since his youth. He had done all that was expected of him. But he wondered: What else did he need to do to inherit eternal life?

Jesus’s answer almost seems like a cruel joke. All the young man had to do was sell his possessions, give the money away, leave his home—meaning his family and his very way of life—and follow Jesus. It’s enough to make one wonder if the young man walked away feeling hopeless. He had already done everything he was supposed to do—what more could Jesus possibly expect from him?

Peter argues that the disciples have already done what Jesus has just told the man to do. The disciples have left their belongings, their livelihoods, and their families to follow Jesus. What more could Jesus possibly want from them?

As God’s beloveds, we give our time, our talents, and our treasures to the church, so what more could Jesus possibly want from us? Are we lacking? The man’s possessions prevented him from following Christ. He lacked the willingness to put God ahead of everything else in his life. What Jesus wants, more than anything else, is for us to put service to God ahead of everything else in our lives. To love God with all our hearts, minds, bodies, and souls.

This may not sound like good news. It may sound impossible. But our God does not leave us hopeless and despairing in our lack—our lack of faith, our lack of action, our lack of love for others. Jesus tells the disciples and us, “For God all things are possible” (Mark 10:27). God already loves us. We have already inherited eternal life. There’s no joke here, only God’s boundless grace.




Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost, October 14, 2018

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.


Response:  Having heard the insistence of Amos’s call to justice, we join together in Psalm 90:12-17, in which we, along with Amos, plead for God to be gracious to us. Yet this psalm retains the Jewish idea that if we are faithful and follow wisdom, we will prosper.



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.



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Copyright © 2018 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #SAS103532.
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Click here to see our website's terms of service.