Monday, August 20, 2012

Be not afraid of the life of sacrifice

We are at Jesus' disposal. If he wants you to be sick in bed, if he wants you to proclaim His work in the street, if he wants you to clean the toilets all day, that's all right, everything is all right. We must say, "I belong to you. You can do whatever you like." And this our strength, and this is the joy of the Lord. -- Mother Teresa

(Gospel Text: Mt 19:16-22)
A young man approached Jesus and said,
"Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?"
He answered him, "Why do you ask me about the good?
There is only One who is good.
If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments."
He asked him, "Which ones?"
And Jesus replied, "You shall not kill;
you shall not commit adultery;
you shall not steal;
you shall not bear false witness;
honor your father and your mother;
and you shall love your neighbor as yourself."
The young man said to him,
"All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?"
Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be perfect, go,
sell what you have and give to the poor,
and you will have treasure in heaven.
Then come, follow me."
When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad,
for he had many possessions.

God asks more from us than just not doing wrong.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells a young man that he must keep the commandments and he must love his neighbor as himself. When the young man is able to check those things off his list, Jesus has one more. Sell what you have and give it to the poor.  Then, Jesus says, come and follow me.

In the reading, the young man went away sad for he had too much.  Many of us are like this young man. Overwhelmed with things that we don’t need, yet we want more and more. But I think it’s more than helping those less fortunate than we are. Breaking free of our possessions can help us see what is really important, especially in these days of so many screens – our computers, our tablets, our phones. The devices are essential for our jobs. They help us pray and laugh and connect with people around the globe.  But too often they are tools that can keep us from connecting with what’s important around us, our families, friends, ourselves.

With possessions and with people, we must be mindful.

For each person, a certain act is the symbol of total abandonment to God. The young man in today's gospel reading would have given all to God if he had sold his possessions (Mt 19:21). Ezekiel gave all to the Lord by prophesying, even using the circumstances of his wife's death to prophesy (Ez 24:15ff). Jewish Christians of the early Church gave God their all when they accepted Gentiles into their Christian community. Gentiles gave their all to God by changing their life-style and observing certain Jewish practices (Acts 15:20). The older brother of the prodigal son could have given everything to the Lord by forgiving his brother (Lk 15:28ff). Matthew gave his all by leaving his secular job (Mt 9:9). Barnabas gave his all by selling his property and giving the money to the Church (Acts 4:37). Ananias and Sapphira failed to give their all in similar circumstances (Acts 5:1ff). Mary gave her all by changing her plans and being the mother of God (Lk 1:34ff). Joseph gave his all by not divorcing Mary (Mt 1:19ff).

How does the Lord want to symbolize your total abandonment to Him?

Are you truly mindful of those who struggle to survive and do what you can for them?

"Do whatever He tells you" (Jn 2:5)!

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