Bishop Thomas Gumbletonby Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

Our second lesson proclaimed how the Word of God is like a double-edged sword; it enters deeply and cuts deeply. Surely as we hear that Gospel lesson today, it must seem like that to all of us. How hard it is to hear God’s Word, to accept it, and to follow it. In fact, we might, like the disciples, think it’s impossible, but Jesus reassures us, “Yes, it is impossible for us alone, but with God everything is possible.”

It’s important for us to listen deeply to this Word of God today and see how it might enter into our being. Even if it cuts deeply but transforms us, it will be worth it. One of the first things I think about when I reflect on that incident in the Gospel is how the young man went away sad. He was so hopeful when he ran up to Jesus. He thought he would get the answer to what he had to do to gain everlasting life.

6-A2768Then he finds out he’s already been living the answer — keep the commandments. But then Jesus looks upon him with love and tells him, “Go sell what you have, give it to the poor, and then come and follow me.” The young man, as I said, went away sad, but I also think how sad it must have been for Jesus. This young man probably looked like he would have been an amazing disciple to join those other disciples. Jesus had looked upon him and loved him and he walked away.

How sad it was for Jesus. The same challenge, of course, is being given to us this evening. Are we going to walk away and make Jesus sad or will we try to listen, accept what Jesus says and follow him? Probably the most important reason why we find this passage difficult is that, to some extent, we misunderstand and so did the young man misunderstand that Jesus wasn’t saying, “You won’t get to heaven.” He’d already assured him, “You’ve kept the commandments. You’ll get to heaven.” But Jesus is saying, “There’s more right now. You can enter into the reign of God now.”

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