Friendship with Jesus will cost us something.
In the case of the young man in today’s gospel, it is his great wealth that prevents him from following Jesus. Jesus’ words are difficult for us to hear. Imagine how much more difficult it was for the rich, young man to hear them. Saint Mark tells us that he went away sad. He couldn’t give up his possessions to follow Jesus. All his wealth had stolen his freedom to chase the deepest desire of his heart friendship with Jesus Christ.
If we were that young man running up to Jesus, what would He say to us? What would Jesus see in our hearts that is keeping us from committing ourselves totally and without reservation to Him? Remember, Jesus doesn’t see us as others see us, He sees our hearts. Having wealth may be one obstacle to His grace, however having wealth doesn’t mean we are cast out of His favor. Is it our wealth? Is it our standing in the community? Could it be addictions to unhealthy substances and behaviors? What is keeping us from having the freedom to live the Gospel with utter abandon? Whatever it is, if we choose that over friendship with Jesus, we will be sad, like the rich young man. If, however, we choose a life of faith in Jesus, we will know freedom and joy. We will be in touch with the deepest longings of our hearts which are not for material possessions but for friendship with God.
The Gospel does not tell us what happened to the rich young man after he left Jesus. But we can bet that he began to look at his possessions differently. Most likely, he began to see them for what they were – burdens which were imprisoning him and preventing him from living the good life he longed for. We can hope that, little by little, they took up less space in his home and in his heart. We can hope that he became more generous with what he had and took less pride in accumulating worldly goods.
The same is true for us. We might not yet have the freedom to give away those things that are tying us down – whether they be material possessions or sinful behaviors. However, little by little, our hearts will tell us that there is something more. We will begin to realize that no worldly good is as precious as the freedom of a simple life given over to the service of God. If we seek God out, it will become clear to us that a life of friendship with Jesus is the greatest wealth any person can have – a wealth that no one can take away from us. And, it is the only wealth we can take with us when we die.
Deacon Frank Iovine (561) 276-6892 Ext. 1305