Monday, March 3, 2014

“If a commission by an earthly king is considered a honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?”

“Each of you has a personal vocation which He has given you for your own joy and sanctity. When a person is conquered by the fire of His gaze, no sacrifice seems too great to follow Him and give Him the best of ourselves. This is what the saints have always done, spreading the light of the Lord ... and transforming the world into a welcoming home for everyone.” - Pope Benedict XVI

Gospel Text: (MK 10:17-27)
As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up,
knelt down before him, and asked him,
“Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good?
No one is good but God alone.
You know the commandments: You shall not kill;
you shall not commit adultery;
you shall not steal;
you shall not bear false witness;
you shall not defraud;
honor your father and your mother.”
He replied and said to him,
“Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.”
Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him,
“You are lacking in one thing.
Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor
and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”
At that statement, his face fell,
and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples,
“How hard it is for those who have wealth
to enter the Kingdom of God!”
The disciples were amazed at his words.
So Jesus again said to them in reply,
“Children, how hard it is to enter the Kingdom of God!
It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle
than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.”
They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves,
“Then who can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said,
“For men it is impossible, but not for God.
All things are possible for God.”

Who is Jesus? Is he the eternal Son of God, sent to save us from sin and open heaven for us? Or is he just a good teacher and charismatic leader? Or, to put it another way, is Jesus far more important than our possessions, or is he just one of many equally good things in our lives? This isn’t just an issue of money, either. Many other “idols” can compete with the Lord, including our strongly held opinions, our social standing, and the grudges and resentments we choose to hold onto.

Jesus' reply to the man in today’s gospel from Mass is an open door to his total deliverance to love: «Go, sell what you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven. Then come and follow me» (Mk 10:21). The rich man is not asked to quit everything for the simple sake of it; he is asked by Jesus to actually abandon himself into God's hands for it is in the act of “abandoning oneself” that the genuine expression of one's loving is concretely demonstrated. It is also in that space of “emptying oneself” that one truly finds the Lord, in fact I will go so far as to say, it is the only way to truly find the Lord.

Love without sacrifice is not love at all; it is fairytale, which will ultimately leave a person disillusioned and disappointed.

Our Lord today meets us where we are and calls us to have a generous heart open to the demands of love. Because —as Pope John Paul II said— «the love which comes from God, a tender and spousal love, gives rise to profound and radical demands».

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