How Can Someone Give Up Everything

10-14-2018Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Have you ever on occasion been in a store when you hear and see someone being outrageously demanding or abusive to a clerk? Have you ever been embarrassed by someone when he or she has been arrogant and snobby to the person waiting on your table. Do you know someone who has never used the words “Thank you” to anyone, including yourself? I have occasionally thought that a particular person who has so much confidence does not match his or her public performance. Please note this is not about healthy self-esteem, but more of hubris and overconfidence.

Our first scripture reading this weekend is about someone who has healthy selfconfidence and esteem. Our Gospel reading is certainly a stark contrast to that. The Old Testament person wanted wisdom, not a scepter and power. Bear in mind, however, that the young person of the Gospel is a good person, but his flaw is significant.

This young man of the Gospel passage was, in fact, a generous and spirited young person. And indeed, he did have unbounding confidence in himself. We read and hear how Jesus was taken aback by this overpowering feeling and also then drawn in by his goodness. Surely, this boy’s request was a legitimate one, and obviously well-meaning. And thus Jesus engaged him because there was a lot of good here that could become better. Jesus first had to deal with the inappropriate patronizing of the overly manipulative title of “Good Master.” Note how Jesus sets the rules of this engagement. He set out the first and principal premise: God alone is good. And thus the conclusion is inevitable: any goodness we have is God’s doing. Jesus repeats the commandments for the young man and also the equally attentive disciples. We learn how the young person is sure he has faithfully followed these commandments from a little child on up. In remarking upon the young man’s amazing self-assurance and obvious wealth, Jesus says give up the one thing that’s standing in your way, which is your attachment to your luxurious and priceless possessions.

These words of Jesus dramatically ended the conversation. The young man’s sunny, expectant face fell, and he turned away. Sadly, note that we never hear from him again, but we do hear from the disciples, who ask aloud, probably with a “stage whisper” how in the world anyone can enter the kingdom of God. How can someone give up everything all at once in one fell swoop? To do so sounds so grand and great, but reality is quite different.

What is really hard is giving up that one thing which we hang onto for dear life. This is our control issue of safety or security in life. We hang on for dear life, and Jesus says we must give up the one last thing in life we call dear to truly follow him.

Who in the world can do this, the disciples wonder, doubting their own strength to do this. For all of us this is near impossible. As we live life, hopefully, we come to see life clearer. Hopefully, we come to know and live our life with safety and security in our belief in Jesus.

Thank You: Just a quick note at this point to say thank you to all who helped with the Saint Rocco Mass and Appreciation Reception. The many hundreds who attended indicated that this Mass and Gathering was a special moment in our Parish history and story. Saint Rocco has blessed our Parish through the years and he will continue to bring blessings to us.

Father Brian