Mark 10:17-30, 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Come to think of it, that question asked of Jesus by the rich man in the Gospel today is something I would ask our aspiring presidential candidates.
In campaigns and political debates, people will ask our candidates what they will do about the pandemic, the economy, the drug war, etc. I would rather ask:
Candidate A or B or C, what pray tell will you do to attain eternal life?
Most will say that that is not a proper question to ask of political candidates. I say however this question goes to the very heart of the matter.
We are poor to this day and we are hurting because of all sorts of causes. But one of the major reasons we are broken and divided is bad governance, terrible leaders. And I suspect that bad leadership has something to do with short attention spans and how easily would-be leaders can dismiss or devalue eternity.
A person’s sense of time is crucially important. If we hold that eternity is only fantasy, or that it is only for later, for the hereafter, then we will decide and move accordingly.
If we seem convinced that this one life is all there is to life, we will be prone to anxiety and avarice. We will become desperate, and we will clutch and grab at whatever we can get if we believe that this ride is the only ride, the last ride in town.
Politics is an eminent gateway to public service. Good people, good leaders, good Christians do not avoid politics like the plague. If you do not engage, the unscrupulous and the ones with short attention spans will take over.
Siempre sasabihin ng lahat ng kandidato na tumatakbo sila para maglingkod sa bayan. Sino ba naman ang aamin na tatakbo sila para yumaman, para sa kanilang sariling kapakanan?
And so to our candidates, my first question will not be about what they will do for others or even for the country. Most probably they already have platitudes and platforms to answer questions of that sort. Instead, I will just ask them simply, Candidate A or B or C, what will you do first for yourself, what will you do to save your soul, what will you do to attain eternal life?
Then I will tell them to reply not to me, not even to post their answer on social media. I will only ask them to turn inward to their conscience and post it where only God and they alone will see their answer.
Jesus in the Gospel today tells the rich man, if you wish eternal life, follow the commandments: do not kill, do not steal, do not lie, etc. When the man says he has complied with all these, Jesus looks at him with love and tells him to let go of his wealth that was getting in the way.
Politics is an eminent gateway to public service. It is also the gateway to power and wealth and honor. It can be the playground of the selfish and the bully. It can also be the field where true leaders can grow goodness to a hundredfold.
It is not for everyone. Let us therefore choose carefully and wisely and well. To help us choose, we can imagine what our candidates might ask of God. From their own words and actions, from what they do not say or do not act on, from the lives they have hurt or touched or changed, we can imagine what it is they truly desire and what they might pray for when they are by themselves with their God.
Let us choose the one who we imagine prays not for wealth but for wisdom, the one who begs not for health or comeliness but for wisdom. Let us choose the one we can imagine praying like the person who asks God for wisdom in the first reading today:
I pleaded, and the spirit of wisdom came to me.
I preferred her to scepter and throne,
and deemed riches nothing in comparison with her, nor did I liken any priceless gem to her;
because all gold, in view of her, is a little sand,
and before her, silver is to be accounted mire.
Imagine, if you can, hearing those words coming from the lips of our candidates. Then choose the one who you believe would prefer wisdom over wealth or power. Elect the one for whom eternity is not for later or the hereafter. Decide on the one for whom eternity is real and for now, the one for whom power is passing and wisdom priceless, the one for whom eternal life with God is everything.
*image from the internet