A transformation

October 10, 2021

Jesus asks the eager inquirer in today’s Gospel to do two things to inherit eternal life. One is already habit, but the other requires a complete transformation. One is straightforward, but the other seems impossible. The first requires keeping the commandments. He eagerly tells Jesus that he has done this since he was a kid. The second required him to “Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor…then come, follow me” (Mark 10:21). This leads him to go the other way, back home again. He is not willing to leave his lifestyle behind or pay the price Jesus requires. He preferred what he had to what he could have had. Any change requires letting go of something. A transformation demands a radical abandonment of part of the past. To follow Jesus is the greatest treasure of all, but it is easier to choose the treasures we already have. Before asking him to make this radical transformation, Mark tells us that “Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said…” (10:21). The phrase loved him consists of only two words in this rather lengthy Gospel passage, but Mark thought these two words significant enough to include them. It is not a stretch to include them in what Jesus asks of us. We know the commandments and have tried to keep them for a long time. So before asking any of us to render the cost of following him, Jesus assures us that he loves us. Even the disciples, who had indeed left their families, homes, and possessions behind to follow the Lord, couldn’t fathom that anyone could possibly inherit eternal life. Jesus acknowledges that it is impossible for any of us to do it on our own. But it is not a matter of doing but in being: being a disciple. With God all things are possible. God is the doer. God offers to do it for us as well. We are called to be open to it, to be disciples. We pray that God’s living word penetrate our hearts, opening them up to a transformation, readying us for God’s saving grace. Amen.

(Casey, Most Reverend Robert G. Pastoral Patterns. World Library Publication, 2021).

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