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Commentary

Amos 5:6-7, 10-15


The prophet Amos tells us that those who reject the Word are the ones who bring
injustice into the world. Amos has harsh words for these people. Because they
walk over the poor and take the food out of their mouths, the overlords will not
live in their beautiful houses nor will they drink their fine wine. The prophet states
that these people can be bought with a bribe and they also ignore the poor at their
door. In the midst of these problems, God’s people cannot keep quiet. They must
tell the world about these evildoers and their deeds. The children of the L ORD will
work for good, they will hate evil in all of its forms, and they will work for justice
in the land.

Amos 5:6 Seek the L ORD – The prophet tells his audience that the faithful find
the L ORD. This word causes pain for those traditions that state humanity
cannot find God.
When you add Amost 5:4-5 to the readings, a different interpretation of
seeking is given. The additional verses dismiss the value of pilgrimages to
holy places. Here is what Isaiah 65:1 says about searching,

I was ready to be sought out by those who did not ask,


to be found by those who did not seek me.
I said, “Here I am, here I am,”
to a nation that did not call on my name.

Amos 5:7 you that turn justice to wormwood – There are people who can pervert
the goodness found in creation.

...

Amos 5:10 They hate the one who reproves in the gate – Those people (the
men) who identify the problems with society are disliked by those who
work against the L ORD.

Amos 5:11 Therefore, because . . . – The prophet starts to identify the specific
ways that people take advantage of other humans.

Amos 5:12 For I know – The L ORD know our every transgression and justice
will be done.

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Amos 5:13 Therefore the prudent will keep silent in such a time – It seems that
those who fear the L ORD will not act out of fear of being punished.

Amos 5:14 Seek good and not evil – The way of the righteous is to follow the
L ORD and not the desires of their hearts.

Amos 5:15 Hate evil and love good – This is the work of the faithful.

Psalm 90:12-17
The psalmist asks the L ORD for the ability to number one’s days so that one will
gain true wisdom. It appears that some sort of persecution is occurring and the
psalmist asks once again for L ORD to look upon His workers with compassion.
All that the psalmist wants is to be loved by God early in the morning since this
love will last throughout the day. In closing, the psalmist asks the L ORD to bless
the work of God’s children.

Psalm 90:12 So teach us to count our days – Life is a gift that only lasts a short
while. Take care of what has been given to you.

Psalm 90:13 How long? – The cry for justice goes up because we cannot wait
for the L ORD to act.

Psalm 90:14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love – The command
spoken by the psalmist reminds the L ORD of His work.

Psalm 90:15

Psalm 90:16 Let your work be manifest to your servants – The plea is for the
L ORD to be seen so clearly in creation that others know that the L ORD
lives.

Psalm 90:17 O prosper the work of our hands! – One way for the L ORD’s good-
ness to be seen is through the prosperity of the L ORD’s followers.

Hebrews 4:12-16
The author of Hebrew tells his listeners that God’s Word is truly alive in the world
and that this Word divides each person into something that can be clearly judged
by God. (I do not understand the different metaphors. The image of soul from

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spirit seems to have been influenced by Greek philosophy and I’d argue that this
metaphor of the body alone is enough proof that Paul did not write Hebrews. The
metaphor of joints from marrow seems to be one of removing a portion of the bone
so that the marrow can be extracted.) Christians have One who has lived, died, and
been vindicated by God. We need to trust this confession. Jesus has been tested,
yet He did not sin. Because of this, we can confidently approach God and receive
in times of trial God’s grace.

Hebrews 4:12 the word of God is living and active – The author of Hebrews
reminds his audience the the L ORD is working in the world today. This
means God gives both blessings and punishments.

Hebrews 4:13 no creature is hidden – As the One who lives outside of existence,
God has the ability to see all of existence in one glance.

Hebrews 4:14 have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens –
Unlike the others who came before Him, Christ’s life allows Him to remain
as a priest for all time.

Hebrews 4:15 in every respect has been tested as we are – Jesus experienced
every problem of humanity. In other words, Christ’s life was not charmed.

Hebrews 4:16 approach the throne of grace with boldness – Despite the rebellion
that pierces every part of the human, we can trust that at the feet of the
Crucified One we will be given grace and not justice.

Mark 10:17-31
The lesson is not about the money. Because if it was about the money, Abraham
would not be in heaven. For you see, Abraham’s wealth at his time would be
comparable to Bill Gate’s wealth in our time. It is about how the money is used.
There are two different economic systems at work in the world:

• The devil, demons, and the powers tell us that we are the only ones who
matter. Take what is yours. Spend on what you want. Watch out for others
because they want what you have.

• Christians should know that God has given them everything. It is not like 10
percent is God’s and everything remaining is ours. In this model, we target
our income to do what God wants us to do.

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God loves us so much that God only wants us and not any of our possessions.
This is the longest discourse in Mark and it “reflects Jesus’ ethic of radical
discipleship.”1
Mark’s version of the cost of discipleship starts in Mark 6:8-10.
Mark 6:8 He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a
staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; 9 but to wear sandals
and not put on two tunics. 10 And he said to them, “Where you enter
a house, stay there until you leave the place.” (RSV)
This approach outlined by Jesus is “mission oriented.”2 Today’s text shows the
end of that road. Everything is God’s and the cross awaits you.

Mark 10:17 on a journey – No this translation is wrong. The Greek reads εἰς
ὁδὸν. Jesus is “on the way.” Contra to Donahue and Harrington, this does
more than just set out a new “geographical motif.”3 This is language that
should invoke the way of the cross.4
Other uses of ὁδός in Mark: Mark 1:2, 3, 2:23; 4:4; 6:8; 8:3; 9:33, 34; 10:17;
10:32; 46, 52; 11:8; 12:14.
a man – Notice that we do not know that he is rich until verse 22.
knelt – This indicates “respect and reverence.”5 The only other use of γο-
νυπετέω (to kneel) in Mark is Mark 1:40 where the leaper kneels before
Jesus.
Good Teacher – While a unique address in this time, this form of speaking
to Jesus does not have any negative connotations,6
inherit – Last week’s lesson reminded us that this is a gift and not an inher-
itance (Mark 10:13-16).
Mark 10:18 Why do you call me good? – This response by Jesus is very trou-
bling.7
1
John R. Donahue, S.J. and Daniel J. Harrington, S.J.; Idem, editor, The Gospel of Mark,
Volume 2, Sacra Pagina, (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2002), p. 306.
2
Ibid., p. 307.
3
Ibid., p. 302.
4
Brian P. Stoffregen, Mark 10.17-31 Proper 23 - Year B, http://www.crossmarks.
com/brian/mark10x17.htm.
5
Donahue and Harrington, Mark, p. 302.
6
Ibid.
7
Ibid., p. 303.

4
No one is good but God alone. – This is a very strange answer by Jesus.
Other items in the Bible, for example creation itself, is called good. Is this
query by the man a some sort of Christological question about Jesus? For
some people it is.8 Others feel that it means that only God the Father is
gracious.9 Loader argues that Jesus’ reply uses the Shema.10

Mark 10:19 You know the commandments – The list that follows is not all of the
commandments. Basically, the ordering follows the list in the second part of
the Decalogue.11 It seems that Jesus or the story teller is not obsessed with
exactly quoting the scripture.12 The order presented here places murder and
adultery as the most important.13
You shall not defraud. – Jesus adds this commandment. It might reflect Ex-
odus 20:17; 21:10 or Deuteronomy 24:14.14

Mark 10:20 have kept – πάντα ἐφυλαξάμην Literally, this I kept/obeyed. Thus
far, it appears that one only needs to keep the commandments to be given
eternal life.15

Mark 10:21 loved him – Does Jesus love the person or his attitude? I would think
that Jesus’ attitude is directed toward the individual.
You lack one thing – All that this man lacks to be a disciple (come, follow
me) is to sell what he owns and to give a portion of the money away.16
the money – This phrase is missing in the Greek.
and give the money to the poor If this action was taken to the extreme, then
the man could not be a benefactor.17 However, Abraham was never asked to
do this!
8
Donahue and Harrington, Mark, p. 303.
9
Ibid.
10
William Loader, First Thoughts on Year B Gospel Passages from the Lectionary Pentecost 19,
http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/˜loader/MkPentecost19.htm.
11
Donahue and Harrington, Mark, p. 303.
12
Loader, ‘First Thoughts on Year B Gospel Passages from the Lectionary Pentecost 19’.
13
Donahue and Harrington, Mark, p. 303.
14
Ibid.
15
Ibid.
16
Ibid.
17
Ibid.

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Mark 10:22 he was shocked – στυγνάζω (Gloomy) This only the only occurrence
in Mark.
he had many possessions This is the first time that we hear of his posses-
sions. Is this a general command that all followers of Christ must give ev-
erything away or is this only to become a member of the inner circle?

Mark 10:23 wealth – Per Donahue and Harrington, χρήματα (riches) is stronger
than κτήματα (possessions).18

Mark 10:24 were perplexed – The verb θαμβέομαι seems to indicate that the
disciples think that wealth is a sign of God’s blessings (Deuteronomy 28:1-
14).19 The theology of the cross tells us that blessings may or may not show
God’s gift.
Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God – Jesus is being affec-
tionate in His response.20 He is telling the disciples (and us) how difficult it
is for anyone to enter the kingdom of God without any help.21
Some early texts wish to soften this harsh Word from Jesus and add phrases
that limit heaven to those who trust in money (For example, see the footnote
in the NRSV.)22

Mark 10:25 easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle – Some of the
attempts to switch rope for camel is nothing more than an blatant effort to
reduce the impact of the text.23 Additionally, there is no evidence of a gate
in Jerusalem named “Eye of the Needle” or “Camel’s Gate.”24 This other
ideas are feeble try at removing the impact of Christ’s Words.25 Of course,
the obvious answer is that it is impossible for a large animal to walk through
a small opening.

Mark 10:26 They were greatly astounded If the rich, who have the time and the
money to serve God, cannot get into heaven, then who can?26
18
Donahue and Harrington, Mark, p. 304.
19
Ibid.
20
Ibid.
21
Ibid.
22
Stoffregen, ‘Mark 10.17-31 Proper 23 - Year B’.
23
Donahue and Harrington, Mark, p. 304.
24
Ibid.
25
Ibid.
26
Ibid., p. 304-305.

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Then who can be saved? – This is one of the most basic theological ques-
tions.27 The disciples (us) can now see that eternal life is a gift. Today, we
still have the idea that we can do something. “I accepted Jesus.” “I was bap-
tized.” “I am forgiven.” Instead the subject of all of these sentences should
be God. “Jesus accepted me.” “God baptized me.” “Jesus forgave me.”28
Mark 10:27 For mortals it is impossible, but not for God. – This verse shows us
that it is God who comes to us and “initiates the process of salvation” by
asking us to enter His kingdom.29
mortals – ἀνθρώποις (humans).
Mark 10:28 Peter began to say – Peter speaks for the disciples.30 Is Peter trying
to justify the reason why he became a disciple?31
Look – ἰδοὺ (behold).
Mark 10:29 Truly – Amen. who has left – This sacrifice means that phrases like,
“My family comes first.” cannot be spoken by Christians.32 We are asked to
give up what we value.33 Sleeping in late on Sundays. Football practice. A
new car.
Mark 10:30 for my sake and for the sake of the good news – Jesus and the Gospel
are at the “same level.”34
good news εὐαγγέλιον (Gospel).
in this age – This text is more positive about the current time that most
Jewish apocalyptic literature.35
with persecutions – This is a “brilliant reminder of the mystery of the cross
in the midst of a list of the the positive benefits of discipleship.”36
Mark 10:31
27
Donahue and Harrington, Mark, p. 305.
28
Stoffregen, ‘Mark 10.17-31 Proper 23 - Year B’.
29
Donahue and Harrington, Mark, p. 305.
30
Ibid.
31
Ed Schroeder, The Disciples’ Unfaith Exposed Mark 10:17-31 Twenty-First Sunday after Pen-
tecost , http://www.crossings.org/theology/theolo82.htm.
32
Stoffregen, ‘Mark 10.17-31 Proper 23 - Year B’.
33
Ibid.
34
Donahue and Harrington, Mark, p. 305.
35
Ibid., p. 306.
36
Ibid.

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References
Donahue, S.J., John R. and Harrington, S.J., Daniel J.; Idem, editor, The Gospel
of Mark, Volume 2, Sacra Pagina, (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press,
2002).

Loader, William, First Thoughts on Year B Gospel Passages from the


Lectionary Pentecost 19, http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/
˜loader/MkPentecost19.htm, Last checked on October 9, 2009.
Schroeder, Ed, The Disciples’ Unfaith Exposed Mark 10:17-31 Twenty-First
Sunday after Pentecost , http://www.crossings.org/theology/
theolo82.htm.

Stoffregen, Brian P., Mark 10.17-31 Proper 23 - Year B, http://www.


crossmarks.com/brian/mark10x17.htm, Last checked on Octo-
ber 9, 2009.