Monday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
The young man asked Jesus: “What do I still lack?”
What do I still lack? We can read this in a negative or in a positive way. The negative way focuses on how the young man is still insufficient in his desire to follow God. Yes, he keeps the commandments, but he still lacks in the total commitment that God asks of him. From a positive side, the young man needs to know that what God wants for him is his happiness. That is to say, God wants to free the young man from anything in his life that is preventing him from experiencing the fullness of joy found in a relationship with God. It was certainly difficult for him to hear, “Go, sell what you have and give to the poor”—what Jesus wants for this young man is to experience the freedom of being a son of God. Jesus wants him to find his treasure in heaven.
St. John of the Cross used a striking example to illustrate the need to let go of all that holds us back from giving ourselves completely to God. The image he used was of a bird tethered to the earth and unable to fly. Whether the bird had a thin string or a thick rope tied to its foot, it is still unable to fly away. Simply put: it doesn’t matter how significant the attachment, as any attachment will hinder our flight to God.
One spiritual writer observed of this rich young man: “He went off sad. Cheerfulness is possible only in the context of real generosity. As soon as we put ourselves totally at the service of the Lord, then our lives will be filled with peace and serenity. We make this gift of self at certain moments in life when God asks us to keep our hearts free.
Reflection Question: If riches and possessions were the attachment for this young man, what holds you back from following Jesus completely?
Reflection by Fr. Paul Sheller, OSB