The Gospel of today, taken from the 10th Chapter of Mark, plays out in three different scenes, marked by three gazes of Jesus.
The first scene presents the encounter between the Teacher and an anonymous person who, according to the parallel passage in Matthew, is identified as a “youth.” An encounter of Jesus with a youth. The youth runs toward Jesus, kneels down and calls him, “Good Teacher.” Then, he asks, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” (v. 17). That is, happiness. “Eternal life” is not only the life of there beyond, but what is a full life, a complete one, limitless.
What should we do to reach that? Jesus’ answer summarizes the commandments that refer to love for neighbor. In this respect, this youth finds no fault in himself; but evidently following the precepts is not sufficient for him. It does not satisfy his desire for plentitude. And Jesus intuits this desire that the youth carries in his heart; thus his answer becomes an intense gaze, full of tenderness and care.
The Gospel says, “Jesus, looking at him, loved him” (v. 21). He realized that he was a good youth. But Jesus also understands the weak point of his interlocutor and makes him a concrete proposal: to give everything he has to the poor and follow him. But this youth has a heart divided between two lords: God and money, and he goes away sad. This shows us that faith and attachment to riches cannot coexist. Thus, in the end, the initial impulse felt by the youth vanishes in the unhappiness of an [invitation to] follow that fails.
In the second scene, the Evangelist focuses on Jesus’ eyes and this time, it involves a thoughtful gaze, one of warning. He says: “Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!'” (v. 23). Faced with the amazement of his disciples, who ask, “Then who can be saved?” (v. 26), Jesus responds with a gaze of encouragement — this is the third gaze — and says, salvation, yes, “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God” (v. 27).
If we entrust ourselves to the Lord, we can overcome all of the obstacles that impede us from following him on the path of faith. To entrust oneself to the Lord. He will give us the strength; he will give us salvation; he will accompany us along the journey.
And thus we have arrived to the third scene, that of Jesus’ solemn declaration: I assure you that he who leaves everything to follow me will have eternal life in the age to come and a hundred times more now in this present age (cf. v. 29-30).
This “hundred times more” is made up of the things that are first possessed and then left, but which are found infinitely multiplied. We deprive ourselves of goods and receive in exchange the joy of the true good; we free ourselves from slavery to things and we win the liberty of service out of love; we renounce possessing and we attain the happiness of giving. About which Jesus said, “There is more joy in giving than receiving.”
The youth did not allow himself to be conquered by the loving gaze of Jesus and thus he wasn’t able to change. Only in welcoming with humble gratitude the Lord’s love do we free ourselves from the seduction of idols and the blindness of our illusions. Money, pleasure and success dazzle, but later they disappoint: They promise life but cause death. The Lord asks of us a detachment from these false riches to enter into true life, a full life, that is authentic and luminous.
And I ask you, youth, boys and girls, who are here in the Plaza, have you perceived Jesus’ gaze upon you? How do you want to respond to him? Do you prefer to leave this Plaza with the joy Jesus gives or with the sadness in the heart that worldliness offers us?
The Virgin Mary helps us to open our hearts to the love of Jesus, to the gaze of Jesus, the only one who can quench our thirst for happiness.
Yesterday we have received with great sorrow the news of the terrible massacre that took place in Ankara, in Turkey. Sorrow for the great number of dead. Sorrow for the wounded. Sorrow because the terrorists have attacked defenseless people who rallied for peace. While I pray for this dear country, I ask the Lord to welcome the souls of the deceased and comfort those who suffer and their families.
Let us all together pray in silence.
Dear brothers and sisters,
Next Tuesday, Oct. 13. we mark the International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction. Unfortunately, we must recognize that the effects of such calamities are frequently aggravated by humanity’s lack of care for the environment. I unite myself with all those who, in efforts to be well-prepared, are committed to the protection of our common home, to promote a global and local culture of the reduction of disasters and of a greater resilience against them, harmonizing new knowledge with traditional, and with special attention to the most vulnerable populations.
I greet with affection all the pilgrims, above all the families and the parish groups, coming from Italy and from various countries. In particular, I greet the deacons and priests of the Collegio Germanico-Ungarico who were ordained yesterday and I encourage them to begin their service to the Church with joy and confidence; I greet the new seminarians from the Venerable English College and the Confraternita della Santa Vera Cruz di Calahorra.
I greet the faithful of the parish of the Sacred Heart and of Santa Teresa Margarita Redi, of Arezzo, in the 50th anniversary of its foundation, as well as the Camaiore e di Capua; the “Jesus loves” group that just did a week of evangelization in the Trastevere neighborhood; the boys and girls who just received Confirmation, and lastly, the “Davide Ciavattini” Association for the assistance of children with serious illnesses of the blood.
To all of you, I wish a good Sunday. Please don’t forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and see you soon!