Reflecting on the story of the Rich Young Man (Mark 10:17-31)
by Rose Feerick
Last week, a group of friends gathered in my home to pray and talk about money and Christian faith. We chose Mark 10:17-31 as a way to dive right in.
Almost as soon as we began to pray I remembered a moment more than ten years ago when I sat with Jesus in that story. At the time, I faced a turning point decision in my life. It was about money. But it was about a lot more. I heard Jesus asking me to let go of a life I had thought I was supposed to live: the comfort of following society’s rules; an idea of myself as successful and good; and doing what others wanted me to do.
It took me a few years to get to yes, but I was finally able to make a decision to release what was blocking the life I knew I was made to live.
Looking at that moment from a ten-year vantage point, I see how much turned out differently than I thought it would. I expected some pain and grief. The path through the eye of the needle was very difficult for me. But every step of the way, gifts were given to sustain me as my heart turned. Wise friends who had gone before came back and held a light. The resources that I really needed showed up. And though there was great loss, God gave extravagantly of what I most deeply sought: healing of wounds; the freedom to live a life in alignment with my heart; meaningful work, joy and a much deeper relationship with God.
Listening to the story again last week, I heard clearly that Jesus really was speaking from love. It was not a test. He was not holding up a standard that I needed to live up. He was not saying I could not enter the Kingdom because I was rich. But he was asking me to let go of what was blocking me from living from my deepest parts of my heart. Like a challenging teacher of wisdom.
We often pray with the story of the rich ruler in Harvest Time circles. And often, people groan because they know that right in the center of the story is a very challenging invitation to let go of money. But when we stay with the story long enough, inevitably other voices emerge.
“Jesus looked at him and loved him.” (Mk 10:21)
“What is impossible for humans is possible for God.” (Mk 10:27)
These are the lines that echo in my heart now. Because ten years after my yes I see how profoundly God can alter our lives. It is not true what most people hear. The rich CAN enter the Kingdom of God.
That’s why I look now for people who are wealthy; who hear the challenge in the story of the rich ruler; and who are brave enough to not turn away.
It is my turn now to hold the light and call: “Come and see.”
Harvest Time is forming a new retreat circle for people who consider themselves wealthy. It will meet in the Bay Area starting in June 2014. Harvest Time retreat circles are circles of transformation. We gather to engage with money because we know that the practice of doing so is one way that God can convert us as individuals, as a community, as well as participants and agents of the economic systems in which we live.
In these circles, we share the realities of our financial lives and our life stories in a prayer-filled atmosphere that welcomes each person’s soul and real life struggles with honesty, openness, compassion and a sense of humor. Sometimes we engage in collective experiments with money to stir up issues we desire to explore and to open up new possibilities for how money can flow through our lives and into the world.
The emphasis in these circles is on loving each other into wholeness. We find that the practice of coming together regularly and engaging with HT’s core practices creates an accountability that is less about checking up on each other and more about loving each other into our movement.
If you would like to know more, please email Rose to set up a conversation to talk about your interest in this circle so we can determine if it is a good fit. We are looking to build a circle of 8-10 people. Six people have already committed. We can welcome up to four more people.