This sonnet is based on Mark 10:17-22 when a rich young ruler approached Jesus with the question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

The rich young ruler shows an earnestness and a deep feeling about his question and its related concerns. When he meets Jesus he drops to his knees. When he leaves, he goes away sad. There seem to be many contradictions at work within him. If one really has everything, how could they want anything more? If one has done it all, what could be done for them? And what can you receive with hands that are already full?

He looked at him and seeing, he loved him–
This man waiting for the answer to come,
This man who hoped in the law of his limbs,
Who held everything, left nothing undone.
But he was undone with the teacher’s word,
“One thing you still lack,” the poor rabbi said,
“Sell all you have–be delivered of your hoard
Make God your only treasure instead.”
In this miserly, moneyed moment of time
His dis-heartened heart chose to trust
Only the good which he could call “mine”.
And he gave himself to that which would rust.
Away in sorrow his heart’s wealth he bore
Empty of the treasure: Who for love became poor.

© Randall Edwards 2016
Artwork: James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). The Rich Young Man Went Away Sorrowful (Le jeune homme riche s’en alla triste), 1886-1896. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, Image: 6 9/16 x 9 9/16 in. (16.7 x 24.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.159 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 00.159.159_PS2.jpg)

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