Detachment key to discipleship

| October 7, 2015 | 0 Comments

Nearly six years ago, a young man from California shocked the sports world. At 23 years old, his story made headlines in newspapers all across America. After playing just three years in the minor leagues, this young man, one of the Oakland Athletics’ top prospects on the verge of being called up to the major leagues, retired from professional baseball to study for the priesthood with the Norbertine Order of in Silverado, California.

Grant Desme, the now former baseball player, says he has found great peace living out the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. He was able to give up his attachment to worldly things — in his case a guaranteed chance at worldly fame and fortune — to follow Jesus in a vocation to which he felt the Lord calling him.

This is something the rich man in the Oct. 11 Gospel could not bring himself to do. The Scripture reads, “he went away sad because he had many possessions” (Mk 10:22).

What message are we to take away from this Gospel? After the rich man went away sad, Jesus said to his disciples, including Peter and the other apostles, “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” (Mk 10: 24-25).

His disciples were thrown for a loop when they heard this. Their amazement at what Jesus said was likely rooted in the long-held belief, often expressed in the Old Testament, that wealth was a sign that one was favored by God. But Jesus’ words put to rest the notion that the rich have a special claim on entrance rights into heaven.

The disciples were saying among themselves, “Then who can be saved? Our Lord’s instruction to the rich man — sell all you have and give the proceeds to the poor, then come follow me — would be very difficult for anyone to do, not just the rich.”

Jesus’ response to their question gives us the key to the answer. “For human beings it is impossible,” he said, “but not for God. All things are possible for God” (Mk 10:27).

What he meant was that it is not wealth and material things themselves that are obstacles to salvation, but our attachment to them. Money and things are temporary; heaven is eternal. So don’t get attached to the former; rather, focus on the latter.

Our broken human nature, the result of original sin, makes it impossible to give up our attachments to worldly things and comforts. It is only by centering our lives on Christ and cooperating with his grace that we can hope to accomplish this seemingly monumental task in order to follow the disciples’ way of detachment. For the true Christian there is only one resource: faith in God, who can do all things.

Deacon Fitzpatrick is in formation for the priesthood at the St. Paul Seminary for the Diocese of Rockford, Illinois. His teaching parish is Holy Name of Jesus in Medina. His home parish is Most Holy Redeemer in Evergreen Park, Illinois.

Sunday, Oct. 11
Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings

  • Wisdom 7:7-11
  • Hebrews 4:12-13
  • Mark 10:17-30

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Category: Sunday Scriptures