As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’”
He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
The good man in today’s Gospel approaches Jesus seeking unity with God, and Jesus offers him exactly what he is seeking when he tells him, come follow me. But Jesus asked him to give up the one thing he could not give up, the one thing that he thought showed he was special. The one thing that defined him as a person stood between him and what he was seeking. He valued that one thing more than unity with God.
We all have this one thing that we would find difficult to give up if God asked us. This one thing that we think makes us special and defines us. This one thing that tells us and the world who we are.
What we have trouble understanding is that the one thing that makes us special, that defines us, the one thing that tells us and the world who we are, is the fact that we are a child of God, loved by the Almighty. If we understood this, we would understand that we are truly lovable and it would free us from the need for other things to give us value. We would be free to become the person God calls us to be.
What is my one thing? If Jesus asked me to give it up, could I?
—Chris LaMothe teaches theology at Jesuit High School in New Orleans.
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.
—St. Ignatius of Loyola
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