Jesus looked at him, loved him and then told him to sell everything and become poor! Now that’s a strange way to show your love. Can you imagine advising those you love to seek poverty instead of that responsible “good job” that would provide for the future? We in the West are indoctrinated with the belief that wealth is good and available to everyone as long as you were willing to work hard for it.
But Jesus isn’t really advocating poverty as much as he is revealing barriers. The man has asked Jesus how he might become closer to God. “By letting go of the things that you are clinging to,” is Jesus answer. Spiritual growth is a process of relinquishment, and at each stage of the journey we are asked—no, invited!—to pry our white-knuckle grip off something. Lots of times it is a possession, but it can also be a career, a self-image, a relationship perhaps. It is out of a sense of love, rather than maniacal perversity, that particular sacrifices are suggested since the things we cling to are actually killing us.
An immense and highly credible research study is sounding the siren call for global warming. At the rate we produce CO2 there will be drastic and irreparable climate change in about a decade. As global leaders meet at the UN they will likely ask something akin to “How do we inherit eternal life?” And Jesus will look at them, love them and say: “Stop eating meat!” “Stop extracting fossil fuels!” “Stop flying!”
It is not a question about the data, it is a question about the will. Am I ready to relinquish? For the sake of my child’s future? For the sake of the world’s future? Let alone, for the sake of my spiritual life?
I come to prayer with this: Like the man in our reading I know the answer before I ask it, I just don’t want to hear it. Is there any way I can fence this in, or gradually phase it in, or create a work-around? Look! I am a good person, I do all the right things. Surely I don’t have to sacrifice this, haven’t I done enough?…
JOB 23:1-9, 16-17
Where are you God? When I need you most, you seem to disappear. There are things we have to talk about. I need to understand why. You need to hear my cry. You promised I could take the wings of the morning out of this dark night and you would be there. But the morning arrives and still there is silence. I sense your love…persistent, calm. But my worries and the silence are choking me.
Too many difficult decisions, too many dazzling distractions, too many messages of decline and despair.
Help me focus on life. Help me sing a song of hope. Help me face this sacrifice.
These readings! There is no letting up this week! I suppose I could numb myself with Facebook or Netflix or some indulgent food…I guess. But we both know I need to sit with this. Like Job on the dung heap, this needs to be endured.
The sacrifice we are all being asked to make is nothing compared to the hell our children will have to live through.
Again, I know the answer. I just hate the silent love.
Ah, a message of light…follow the light.