Don't Be Held Back!
“If you wish.…”
The young athlete approached the Olympic trainer. “What do I need to be really good?” Unimpressed, the trainer yawned and said, “You know the routine: eat right, work out daily, see your doctor.”
“But I’ve done that since I could walk! What else?” The coach turned. He sensed something here. With a glint in his eye, he ventured, “If you want to go for the gold, leave everything—family, school, friends, and options. Give away the amateur’s gear. Then come, train with me.” Later, the youth confessed, “I wanted more, but not that much more!”
What do we really want? Paul writes, “… the love of money is the root of all evils” (1 Tm 6:10). “Stuff” doesn’t make us bad or unhappy, just the attachment does, the clinging for dear life to it. “It” can also be security, position, ability, or friendship. And when these are somehow wrested from our grasp, then come the tantrums. Our relationship to what we value can make or break every other relationship and can lead us into either communion or isolation with respect to others, including Christ. What we want can really impede what we truly want.
A thirty-something woman offered herself to God in prayer one day. Then, realizing the risk, she cried out in her heart, “God, you’re always on the take! Can’t you leave me, just once, with something?” Silently she heard the reply, “I take so you won’t be alone.” Here is discipleship’s payoff: we follow, Jesus accompanies, and this “treasure” lasts forever. This understanding illustrates why this text has traditionally been used to describe “consecrated life”—a radical form of Christian discipleship. Such a life reminds us that willingness to give oneself to Christ makes space within us and among us for a new relationship with him, with our community, with the world, and indeed with ourselves. We are much more than what we own; in fact, we are other than what we own. If we want, we can be free to proclaim this Good News with Christ.
Teacher, like the young man in today’s Gospel, I myself often frame everlasting life in terms of gain and lack. Thank you for inviting me to enter into that life. I know that what I possess tightly possesses me. Give me the courage and trust to face the grasping that prevents me from saying yes. “Many say, ‘May we see better times!’ But you have given my heart more joy than when grain and wine abound” (Ps 4:7–8).
“You alone, LORD, make me secure” (Ps 4:9).
Daughters of St. Paul. (2011). Ordinary Grace Weeks 18–34: Daily Gospel Reflections. (M. G. Dateno & M. L. Trouvé, Eds.) (pp. 48–49). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.