Grace: To sense more deeply the possibility of renewal and reform in my life and the desire in God’s heart for that renewal in me.
Text for prayer: Lk. 18:18-27
Reflection: Sometimes the most important thing in a passage is what Jesus doesn’t say. Such is the case in today’s reading from Luke’s Gospel, where Jesus encounters a rich young man who has lived a pretty good life and is now seeking for that certain something that still seems to elude him. He wants not just to be moral or happy; he wants God. And so he comes to Jesus. Jesus asks him if he has followed several of the Ten Commandments, and the young man says that he has followed each of them from his youth.
But when Jesus lists some of the commandments, he leaves off the first commandment: “You shall have no other god before me.” The rich young man realizes this omission in Jesus’s list of the commandments (and in his own attempts to live them out) and walks away sad, for he is possessed by many things. These possessions might be his high social standing, his wealth, his relationship to his family, or (perhaps most painfully) even his sense of his own righteousness. Whatever the case may be, the rich young man is attached to many things in his current life and is therefore unable to follow after Jesus who is humble, poor, and despised by all.
At the end of the passage, Jesus reminds us that “with God anything is possible,” and this should give us hope that we too might come to live a perfect life with God. But the harsh truth of Christianity is that it demands constant conversion, and insofar as the Christian ceases to be open to an ever deeper reform of his own life, that person ceases to follow Jesus as closely as he could. We need God in order to know God, and such knowledge comes only when we give not just what is required in justice but also what is demanded in love.
As we begin to look towards Holy Week and Easter, it will become more and more important for us to seriously consider where we have failed to let go of our own false gods. If we truly admit that we seek God, then we should prepare ourselves for the slow and often painful work that God will seek to do in us, to reform our lives and ultimately give us what we are looking for.
Questions: Am I rich in the things of God, or is there a place in me where I still hold on to something from which the Lord wants to set me free? How do I judge what is most important in my life? When was the last time that I took an honest appraisal of the things I hold dear? How might the Lord desire for me to be more free with my time, my patience, my money, or my love? Do I really believe that the Lord will give me all that I need? How would my life be different if I did?