‘Sell everything you own and give the money to the poor’

Twenty-eighth Sunday of the Year B

In this reading Jesus makes clear that material possessions – or a love of them – can hold us back as his followers. Fr Adrian Graffy reflects.

Mark 10:17-30

17 Jesus was setting out on a journey when a man ran up, knelt before him and put this question to him, ‘Good master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ 18 Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 19 You know the commandments: You must not kill; You must not commit adultery; You must not steal; You must not bring false witness; You must not defraud; Honour your father and mother.’ 20 And he said to him, ‘Master, I have kept all these from my earliest days.’ 21 Jesus looked steadily at him and loved him, and he said, ‘There is one thing you lack. Go and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ 22 But his face fell at these words and he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.
23 Jesus looked round and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!’ 24 The disciples were astounded by these words, but Jesus insisted, ‘My children,’ he said to them, ‘how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’ 26 They were more astonished than ever. ‘In that case,’ they said to one another, ‘who can be saved?’ 27 Jesus gazed at them. ‘For men,’ he said, ‘it is impossible, but not for God: because everything is possible for God.’
28 Peter took this up. ‘What about us?’ he asked him. We have left everything and followed you.’ 29 Jesus said, ‘I tell you solemnly, there is no one who has left house, brothers, sisters, father, children or land for my sake and for the sake of the gospel 30 who will not be repaid a hundred times over, houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and land – not without persecution – now in this present time and, in the world to come, eternal life

Other readings: Wisdom 7:7-11 Psalm 89 (90) Hebrews 4:12-13


After the initial discussion about eternal life, Jesus addresses an issue which has always faced Christians. Are riches an obstacle to faith? Jesus’ answer is that riches can be an impediment to the life of a disciple. The astonishment of the disciples arises from the belief that material prosperity is a reward from God. Jesus does not seem to share this view.

Instead, Jesus maintains that material possessions may well be an obstacle to salvation. For this reason Christians are invited ‘to leave everything’. If this is not possible they should ensure that whatever they possess and whatever power they have is used for the good of others. The real enemy is selfishness. It is selfishness that kills love.

What is my attitude to my material possessions?

Do I allow selfishness to dominate my life, or any part of it?

Let us pray for those who have left everything in order to serve Christ.

Let us pray for wisdom and courage as we seek to live in a similar way.

INT-IMG_5349 Fr Adrian Graffy (3)Rev Dr Adrian Graffy is a member of the Vatican Commission that takes a lead in Bible scholarship, interpretation and promotion in the Catholic Church.

Rev Dr Graffy said of his five-year appointment by Pope Francis in 2014: “It is an honour to be nominated by Pope Francis as a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. I feel humbled and very much look forward to being of service to His Holiness and the Church.”

He added: “A great deal has been achieved in England and Wales in recent years by many co-workers to advance Biblical scholarship and the provision of easy-to-use resources. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them and the Bishops’ Conference Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis for their efforts to promote understanding and love of the Bible, particularly through the publication of the teaching documents, The Gift of Scripture and the study guide to Verbum Domini, The Word of the Lord.”

Rev Dr Graffy received his doctorate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome in 1983. He taught for over 20 years in St John’s Seminary in Wonersh, and is Chair of the National Scripture Working Group, which is an instrument of the Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. Fr Graffy is a past director of Brentwood’s Commission for Evangelisation and Formation and parish priest of Christ the Eternal High Priest in Gidea Park, Essex. Among his publications are the Gospel of Mark and the Letter to the Romans (Alive Publishing).

Listen to BBC Essex interview with Fr Adrian Graffy