So, have you sold what you own yet?

From today’s gospel reading

“You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”


Are we supposed to take this passage literally? If we aren’t supposed to take it literally, how exactly are we supposed to take it? These are the kinds of questions one asks one’s self listening to a sermon.

What did you preach about in church today? What did you hear? Feel free to share links to your sermon in the comments.

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10 Comments
  1. I’m having a garage sale next Saturday. Come on down.

    Are we supposed to take this passage literally?

    If so, I am done in.

    June Butler

  2. Rick Benson

    I take it as addressing a symptom of a deeper spiritual malady. The heart of what I preached can be found here: abbaruah.blogspot.com

  3. Clint Davis

    Sounds more like a Buddha than a Rabbi. Hardly any place for this in his culture, but in India this sort of thing happened often enough to make lots of Buddhist and “Hindu” (whatever that means!) stories. Something fishy is going on, methinks the Lord didn’t learn everything just from his local run of the mill synagogue personnel. Silk Road, anyone?

  4. Juan Oliver

    The passage needs to be interpreted in the light of its contexts: a) literary –it appears in a section in Mark dealing with the cost of discipleship, warning would be followers of Jesus that it takes your all to do so. b) in its social context around 70 AD, with roots in the Gallilean experience of a community meeting weekly for a pot luck in an area where many farmers had been disposessed of their lands by the Romans to give them as prizes to their noveau riche sycophants. c) in our own context, meaning that being a disciple involves taking the plight of the poor and starving seriously, seriously enough to give it your all, at whatever station of life you are in. It is hard to read passages like this and think Christianity is about a vague feeling of being spiritual.

    It´s not. It´s about the soioeconomic order, and its transformation into the Kingdgom of God, a society characterized by truth telling, justice-doing, shalom, and love. Working for THAT can get you dispossessed –even tortured and killed.

  5. Rosalindhughes

    “The young man went away grieving, because he could not find it in his heart to give up trusting in what he had and go out on a limb to follow Jesus instead. And Jesus loved him anyway, and grieved for him.

    At its most basic, the challenge of this gospel is to identify what we are trusting instead of God, what we cannot let go of, even to help others, even to save ourselves. What are we relying on to save us instead of God? Because while the challenge to us of this gospel might be to give away more money – it might be – for many of us, the challenge is probably something else; …The challenge to all of us, whatever percentile of wealth we fall into, is to place our trust in the right place, in God, who alone is good and who alone makes us good enough.” The full sermon is here: http://rosalindhughes.com/2012/10/14/year-b-proper-23-sermon/

  6. Michael Russell

    If we take this as a blanket commandment I think we miss the point. Jesus picks riches for this young man because he is possessed by them, not they by him. They live in a place in his life where God should be, even though he lives out the law.

    What should be scary for us is to consider what we might be holding onto so tightly that Jesus might ask us to forgo it. The answer is likely different for everyone.

  7. Erik Campano

    “It is hard to read passages like this and think Christianity is about a vague feeling of being spiritual. It´s not. It´s about the socioeconomic order, and its transformation into the Kingdom of God, a society characterized by truth telling, justice-doing, shalom, and love. Working for THAT can get you dispossessed –even tortured and killed.”

    YES, YES, and YES. A lot of people reinterpret this scripture into something less literal, without ever having actually *tried* it — that is, given everything they have to the poor. To actually follow this suggestion — as difficult as it is particularly if you have dependents — is one of the few great acts of self-liberation. Nowadays, nobody models this more beautifully than the consecrated religious who take vows of poverty.

    And kudos to you Juan for pointing out that living up to what Christ calls us to do can get us tortured and killed. True Christian martyrdom is something we rarely see (or at least, is rarely documented) in America today. But you don’t have to go far back — to MLK — to bear witness to what risking your life for the truth really means.

    Mark 10:21 is a really radical challenge, and yes, prima facie socioeconomic. Bringing about the Kingdom of God will have to be a collective act of equalization of access to resources, and physical courage.

    Erik Campano

  8. billydinpvd

    I think Michael Russell hit the nail squarely on the head. It’s not a universal commandment.

    Bill Dilworth

  9. Sara Miles

    As long you treat money as something you can use to buy God’s approval––by tithing a certain percentage of your income, for example, by dutifully donating to the poor, by fulfilling a fair-trade contract of charitable giving––then your relationship to money remains idolatrous, no matter how much of it you give away.

    Whole sermon here:

    http://www.saintgregorys.org/worship

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