The icon of the Rich Young Ruler was developed and written by Katherine Sanders for me in Scotland in August, 2015. I used my summer vacation money for it. The icon shows Jesus’ encounter with the Rich Young Ruler. Colorado wild flowers populate the ground near Jesus and references from Deuteronomy 8:11-20 “…brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrible wilderness, an arid wasteland with poisonous snakes and scorpions. He made water flow for you from flint rock…” set up the markan passage Mark 10:17-21 in which Jesus stops looking at the ruler and begins to see him (v. 21, “ Jesus, looking straight at him, warmed to him”)
Notice that Jesus is dressed in the standard red undergarment (representing His pre-created divinity) and with a blue overlay (representing the humanity he puts on as Jesus). Then notice that, like Mary and the Beloved Disciple, The Rich Young Ruler is portrayed as wearing the humanity of blue/green while having a cloak lining of red – a nod to his desire to be more like Jesus through his inquiry. Jesus is in motion – interrupted and annoyed by the Ruler. The Ruler is bent, humble, asking, seeking, stuck within his wealth. The blue green of his tunic is similar to the color of the ocean around the iconographer’s home in Scotland. The scenery around Jesus and the Ruler’s upper body is gold, reflecting the window to divine connection of this or any icon. The passage is usually mis-translated. When Jesus recovers from his annoyance at seeing a rich person, He softens, hearing the Ruler’s real desire for help. “The, Jesus, looking straight at him, warmed to him.
Raising money in the church means raising it from the wealthy -people who have three meals each day and more in their capacity. To find out if you are rich on a planetary level, go to globalrichlist.com and find out. (Spoiler: you are.) Raising money in the church means being compassionate on ourselves for being annoyed by wealth and how we feel when we see it – in others and in ourselves. We underestimate the shame we feel knowing that our comfort is on the backs of a poverty-stricken world. And it means being compassionate for the wealthy who are really trying to make meaning as best they can, but need our help as fundraisers to do so.
Financial development in faith-based institutions is a ministry, not a chore. To give our money away to fund Christ’s mission through the church is our responsibility in gratitude. To ask, requires more humility than to give. Jesus, in this passage, learns human, earthly humility.