Today’s Gospel: Matthew 19:16-22
How much are we willing to give up in order to follow Jesus? Are we willing to give up our lives?
What does it mean to give up our lives? It’s not just being willing to physically die for our faith like the martyrs did. That alone seems impossible. But in challenging the young man in today’s gospel to sell all of his possessions and follow him, Jesus was asking him (and us) to give up everything.
Our family. Our parents. Our spouse. Our children.
Our home. All of our possessions, until we become as needy as the least of these.
Our friends. The community where we have planted our roots.
Our past. Our present and our future. Our time; every single second of every day.
Our dreams, aspirations and hopes. The talents we lay claim to. Our mind and the knowledge we’ve accumulated over the years.
Our pride. Our comfort. Our hunger and thirst.
There’s an old saying, “You can’t take it with you.” This is because, in fact, we own nothing. Everything we have, right down the numbered hairs on our heads, are gifts from God.
As long as we lay claim of ownership to anything in our lives, we can never follow Jesus in totality.
Jesus might have sounded harsh towards the young man who had followed the commandments so faithfully. If you read further in the chapter you will find that Jesus looked upon the young man with love when he turned away.
Jesus knows how hard it is to detach from our lives. He had to do the same after living thirty years in Nazareth with His family. He also knows what will make us everything we could ever hope to be. He only asks that we leave everything in His capable hands.
Do I understand what it means to leave everything behind for Jesus? Am I willing to ask for the grace to understand and then to hand over everything into His hands?
Lord, I am afraid. I cling to everything in my life like a toddler clutching her favorite toy. I can’t let go. Please grant me the grace to first desire to let go, and then to actually let go. Amen.
Copyright 2014 Susan Bailey