October 10, 2021
“Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him,
‘You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor
and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.'”
– Mark 10:21
Brothers and Sisters,
What’s your one thing?
Seeking a formula for eternal life, the rich young man approaches Jesus wanting answers. After examining the depths of his heart, Jesus reads more deeply into the commandments, knowing they are not just a list for the young man to checked-off at face value. Let’s be honest, we can fall into the same trap, with our arguments ready if we should arrive at the Pearly Gates: “I was in Church on Sunday. I never killed anyone. I treated others basically with respect.” (I, too, am among the majority who cannot check this box off thoroughly). Jesus doesn’t guard his answer with a secret handshake or password and speaks plainly to the young man; to achieve eternal life, one must remain focused on continued growth and improvement. But reflecting on his capacity to love, the rich young man could not wholly surrender his heart as he clung to the comfort of his affluent lifestyle. Jesus often asks us to get uncomfortable, knowing nothing easy will ever change us. We must courageously live out the commandments and push back against complacency, asking God to show us the one thing (or several things) holding us back from loving more profoundly.
In October, we celebrate Respect Life Month. In light of Jesus’ answer in the Gospel, what aspect of our respect for life needs improvement? Our intention in celebrating the dignity and blessings of life is to highlight the wonderful gift of the Creator. We give God greater glory by respecting the lives of all people – whether they are children in the womb, elderly who are infirm or confused, those with disabilities or chronic illnesses, or those scrambling to find a decent meal and safe place to live. Whom are we failing to respect? And this is not just a personal question but an uncomfortable topic that we must address as a parish and as members of society.
Please continue to listen to the Lord in prayer. Who is the Lord calling us to love with deeper care and compassion? Is the Lord calling us to join the many voices who see the atrocity of abortion and are concerned about the increasing prevalence of this killing, often touted as “healthcare” and a tool for society to be healthier?
Or, do we need to challenge our prejudices or unconscious biases? Sadly many suffer the impact of this sin of racism, tragically too often denied. The solutions are not easy, and the challenge to change for the better is tough. But let’s not walk away like the rich young man — dejected. In this year of the Eucharist, recognize the presence of Jesus, who truly consumes us and forms us as the Body of Christ. We are not alone; a God of grace walks with us on our journey of continuous improvement!
St. Joseph, pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts, forever.
Rev. Michael S. Triplett