Dear friends on the journey,
Today’s gospel is really challenging, one that causes some discomfort and requires much reflection. The rich young man was strong in his desire to have eternal life and firmly believed he was doing his part by keeping the Ten Commandments. According to Jesus, this was not enough. Then he delivered the sucker punch: Go, sell what you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven. I can just imagine the look on his face, like a toddler caught sneaking a cookie or a teenager who has been grounded – surprised then sad.
Discarding his possessions was a step too steep for the rich young man. Perhaps he needed more time to process or his understanding of eternal life was slanted. His exact struggle is unknown but I think we can all relate when asking these questions: Does God really want me to sell my house, vehicles, furniture, and electronics? Does God want me to be homeless and without “things”? Does God want me to give up my relationships in order to give to the poor?
I turned to a few biblical commentaries to help wrestle with these questions and found Alice Camille’s reflection thought provoking. We come into this world to be in it, not of it. However, to live in this world means we need a home, food, water, clothing, relationships, and things to help facilitate daily living. Sometimes though these possessions can overwhelm and bind us. Camille’s reflection points out “whatever we have, it also has us” and that which has us – home, car, lawn, bank accounts, titles, relationships – demands our money, time, and effort.
This reminded me of a standing conversation with my husband about our lawn. Confession time. When the drought was in full effect a few years ago, I was adamant about not losing our lawn to artificial turf or the desert look. Horrible, I know! We dutifully reduced watering and watched it brown a bit. Eventually the rains came and the grass greened again. Now another drought is here and watering is restricted. This time around though we are better informed and ready to say farewell to (at least) our front lawn. The area is rather small but by giving it up, we are gaining so much more. We will replace the grass with native plants and those that help bees, butterflies and other creatures. Time and energy from weekly maintenance shifts to relational time, with each other or others in need. Limited water will better serve as drinking and bathing by others. Money used for equipment and supplies can now be given to the parish, St. Vincent de Paul, and other charities. Today’s gospel and reflection has convicted me to take action in this project. It might seem small or silly to some but by giving up the possession of our lawn, we are
freeing ourselves, opening ourselves to something greater the heaven of right now, and maybe even eternal life.
This week I encourage you to examine your possessions to consider what has a hold on you. Might it be an unhealthy relationship, an addiction, technology, politics, entertainment, vehicle, lawn, Starbucks?