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Gospel for Sunday, October 10: Mark 10, 17-31

XXIX Sunday B

17As he was going out to travel, a man ran to meet him and, falling on his knees before him, asked him: “Good Master, what must I do to have eternal life?”. 18Jesus said to him: “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19You know the commandments: Do not kill, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.” 20He then said to him: “Master, I have observed all these things from my youth.” 21Then Jesus, staring at him, loved him and said to him: “You lack only one thing: go, sell what you have and give it to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come and follow me.” 22But he, saddened by those words, went away afflicted, since he had many possessions. 23Jesus, looking around, said to his disciples: “How difficult it will be for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!”. 24The disciples were amazed at his words; but Jesus continued: “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 26They, even more dismayed, said to each other: “And who can ever be saved?”. 27But Jesus, looking at them, said: “Impossible with men, but not with God! Because everything is possible with God.” 28Peter then said to him: “Behold, we have left everything and followed you.” 29Jesus answered him: “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands because of me and because of the gospel, 30that he does not already receive a hundred times as much in the present in houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and fields, together with persecutions, and in the future eternal life. 31And many of the first will be last, and the last will be first”.

Mark 10, 17-31

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather (

Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.

The so-called passage “of the rich young man” is certainly one of the most indicative of Jesus’ thoughts regarding riches.

When the rich young man, at Jesus’ proposal to sell what he owned and give it to the poor, “went away distressed, since he had many possessions”, a dramatic confrontation opens between Jesus and his disciples on the topic of possession of goods. The Master announces the great difficulty of the salvation of the rich (Mk 10,23); it must have been an innovative position if the evangelist notes the amazement of the disciples: “The disciples were amazed at these words of his”. But Jesus reiterates this difficulty with the famous example of the camel that has to pass through the eye of a needle (Mk 10.24-25). Mark again underlines the shock of the bystanders at this announcement, remarking with a comparative that “they, even more astonished, said to each other: «And who can be saved?»” (Mk 10,26). It is the trauma of the first Church, which sometimes proposed softer textual variants: such as that of verse 23 of chapter ten of Mark which transformed the “rich” into “those who trust in riches” (the Latin text of the Vulgate also adds to verse 24 : “confidentes in pecuniis”), thus replacing the command to share one’s goods with a simple invitation not to be too internally attached to them; or the one who put, in verse 25, “gomena” (“kàmilos”) instead of “camel” (“kàmelos”), so as not to make it impossible for the rich to enter Paradise: if it is impossible for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, who knows that with some effort a hawser might succeed, perhaps fraying and shredding…

Matthew, in the parallel passage, adds: “Love your neighbor as yourself” to the Mark text of the precepts listed by Jesus to the rich young man (Mt 19:19). The Fathers of the Church, commenting on this evangelical pericope, will note how the accumulation of wealth is contrary to charity, and that therefore the young man, possessing huge assets, lies when he claims to have always observed the commandments of the Lord. Already Origen (185-253) quotes a fragment of the apocryphal “Gospel of the Jews” in which Jesus, to the rich man who claims to have always observed the commandments, objects: “How can you say that you have observed the Law and the Prophets… while so many of your brothers, children of Abraham, are in filth and dying of hunger, and your house is full of goods, and nothing comes out of it for them?”.

Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, concludes that no miser, such as fornicators or the impure, “will have a share in the kingdom of Christ and of God” (Eph 5:5).

The meaning of the condemnation of wealth as a lack of sharing with the poor is very clear: and I believe that we must welcome this Word of life, allowing ourselves to be amazed and provoked by it, as the disciples did, without immediately taking refuge in the mercy of God that Jesus also announces in this situation: “Impossible with men, but not with God! because everything is possible with God!” (Mk 10.27).

But the Fathers warn us against distorting this announcement of the Lord’s clemency: for them the proclamation of God’s power regarding the salvation of all does not mean that whatever we do regarding the use of riches will ultimately be indifferent to to Him at the moment of our judgment; it wants to announce that God has the strength to convert even the most stingy and stubborn rich man into a brother capable of sharing and solidarity. In fact, John Chrysostom (345/54-407), bishop of Constantinople, says: “How is it possible then for the rich man to save himself? Possessing the things that belong to him in common with the needy.”

Monsignor Bartolucci, bishop of Esmeraldas in Ecuador, stated that when Jesus proclaims: “What is impossible with men, is possible with God” (Lk 18,27) “it does not mean that, in the end, God will open the doors of the kingdom even to those who have a rich heart. He means that God can give even the rich a poor heart.” Riches then do not become an impediment to following Christ, but the means to concretely demonstrate, in love for our brothers, our love for the Lord.

To those who embrace evangelical poverty, sharing their goods with the least, Jesus not only promises eternal life, but his provident help already in this existence, “already in the present a hundred times more in homes and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and fields” (Mk 10,28-30). It is God himself who will provide for his children, as Jesus reminds us at the Last Supper: “When I sent you without purse, or pouch, or sandals, did you perhaps lack something?” (Luke 22.35).

As Paul says, quoting the Psalms (Ps 112.9): “Keep in mind that he who sows sparingly will reap sparingly, and he who sows generously will reap generously…. Moreover, God has the power to make every grace so that, always having the necessary of everything, you can generously carry out good works, as it is written: «He was generous, he gave to the poor; his righteousness endures forever” (2 Cor 9,6-9).

Happy Mercy to all!

Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at


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