Our human way of thinking is not God’s way of thinking. Take our Gospel reading for Sunday: A young man approaches Jesus and asks him, “What must I do to inherit eternal life.”
Contrary to his expectations (probably the man was hoping to obtain from Jesus a new and secret revelation), Jesus’ answer was a reminder of the commandments.
Not satisfied with the response, the man responds to Jesus by saying that he has kept the commandments since he was young. Jesus, then, tells him the one thing he lacks: “Go, sell what you have, and give it to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”
Jesus’ response can seem like something added to the first answer, something extra, but it is not. Jesus is calling the man to the fullness of love that the commandments themselves point toward. Jesus is himself the fulfillment of the law showing forth the goal: communion with God and neighbor.
In fact, Jesus is asking if the man loves God above everything. The man’s sad response shows us that, even though he lived a basically good life, the way he held his possessions kept him from being able to love God above all things.
Love of God involves the commandments — and more. Somebody who loves God above all things cannot kill, commit adultery, steal, bear false witness or defraud.
But more than that, loving God requires us to give up everything that keeps us from following him. “Go, sell what you have . . .” — sell your selfishness, your envy, your sloth, your indifference, your anger, your resentment, your gossip —
“then come, follow me.”
The danger is that we can become so attached to our possessions and way of life that they prevent us from following Jesus.
Are you ready?
If the ability to follow Jesus were based on our own strength, it would be impossible for us to change our lifestyle.
It is not only our own strength that allows us to follow Jesus and to leave behind our attachments. It is God who gives us the grace to leave behind what keeps us from loving and following him. For us it is impossible to leave our attachments, but not for God. “All things are possible for God.”
What if God is calling you to be a priest or a religious brother or sister? If you are married, God is calling you to be a better father and mother. If you are single, God is calling you to serve your family, friends, and community.
Are you ready to leave everything and follow him? What is holding you back? What sins or possessions are you grasping onto that keep you from following Jesus in love?
May God give us prudence and freedom in our lives, so we will be able to love him above all things.
Deacon Manuel Gerardo Gomez Reza is in formation for the priesthood at The St. Paul Seminary for the Diocese of Rockford, Ill. His home parish is St. Joseph in Elgin, Ill.
Sunday, Oct. 14
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
What must I give up in my life to truly answer Christ’s call and love God beyond all things?