In fourth chapter of Mark’s Gospel which we are reading at daily Mass this week we find the following saying of the Lord:
To the one who has, more will be given; from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. (Mk 4:25 )
The Rich get Richer? Now to one who reads such a text from a merely worldly perspective it might seem the Lord is saying in some fatalistic sense that the rich get richer and the poor just get poorer. But such a reading of this text would be incorrect since it fails to understand that the Lord Jesus is speaking of the Kingdom of God and not the kingdom of this world. Indeed, the fuller context of Chapter 4 is the memorable parable about the seed of the word that falls on either on the path, on rocky ground, among the thorns, or into good soil. Not only does the Lord give this parable, but goes on to explain the parable at considerable length. So the context of this saying is not the world but the Kingdom of God.
Thus, when the Lord speaks of those who have “more” he does not mean material possessions and the wealth of this passing world. Rather, those who have more are those who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold, sixtyfold and a hundredfold (Mk 4:20).
Thus, the one who has more is the one who has the Kingdom of God, who has faith, who, by faith, has the Lord and the justice of the Lord, and who stands to inherit all of heaven. He or she is the one who has more.
Note too how the “more” keeps building. To have faith is to have the Lord, and to have the Lord is have saving grace and mercy. And to have saving grace and mercy is to grow in holiness and experience greater and greater healing. And to experience this transformation and share in God’s holiness is to be made ready for heaven. And to be made ready for heaven is to one day have heaven, and to be with God for ever. Thus to have more and to accept its power is to have more and more and more, until we are spiritually rich in the kingdom. Yes, those who have the Kingdom are the ones who are rich! They may not have the fancy house, with the big car, big salary, big ego and big hair. But they are rich in the only way that really matters or lasts; they are rich in the Kingdom.
So, who are those who have not? They are those who have rejected the Kingdom of God, the Word of God, the grace and mercy of God. They “have not” the Kingdom. And they do not have it not because it hasn’t been offered but because they have rejected it. These are the ones who are truly poor, who are destitute, who “have not.”
But notice that the text does say they do have something, for the text says, even what he has will be taken away. Now this means he or she has something, but it will not be theirs for long. For what they have is the world and its vain, passing riches. It is theirs now, but like sand slipping through their fingers, it ebbs away and will some be gone. It cannot last no matter how large the fortune is that is amassed.
Consider carefully what the Lord says here. The world’s riches cannot last. Further, they are all but nothing compared to the riches of the Kingdom of heaven. The ones who have the kingdom are those who have and will get more. The ones who have this world, by comparison, have nothing at all, and the little they do have will be taken from them.
Think of a multibillionaire, a captain of industry with numerous homes, corporate jets, luxury yachts, even private islands. He may have amassed a fortune on this planet and own more real estate than even certain governments!
But really, what he has is ultimately so little! If you were to go out into space, not even all that far, and look back you couldn’t even see the earth. Our billionaire may have amassed a fortune, but it is only a portion of a speck of space dust, for the earth is but speck of dust compared to immensity of the things God has made.
Do you get the point? We get real impressed about what is really very little in the end. And our billionaire has this wealth for only a very brief nanosecond of cosmic time. When his little moment is up, even the little he has is taken from him.
There is only one way to be truly rich and that is to receive the gift of God and his Kingdom. Only this will last. Only in coming to possess this do we really have something that amounts to anything. Only this will grow until we are rich. Only those who have the kingdom are rich in any sense of the word. All others really have what amounts to only very little, and what little they have, if it is of the world, will be taken from them.
This song says: Only what you do for Christ will last. Some of the verses say,
You may build great cathedrals large or small, you can build skyscrapers grand and tall, but only what you do for Christ will last…. You may seek earthly power and fame, the world might be impressed by your great name, soon the glories of this life will all be past, but only what you do for Christ will last. Remember only what You do for Christ will last. Only what you do for Him will be counted at the end; only what you do for Christ will last.