Step #1: Lectio / Read
As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up,
knelt down before him, and asked him,
“Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good?
No one is good but God alone.
You know the commandments: You shall not kill;
you shall not commit adultery;
you shall not steal;
you shall not bear false witness;
you shall not defraud;
honor your father and your mother.”
He replied and said to him,
“Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.”
Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him,
“You are lacking in one thing.
Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor
and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”
At that statement, his face fell,
and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
Jesus looked around and said to his disciples,
“How hard it is for those who have wealth
to enter the Kingdom of God!”
The disciples were amazed at his words.
So Jesus again said to them in reply,
“Children, how hard it is to enter the Kingdom of God!
It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle
than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.”
They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves,
“Then who can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said,
“For men it is impossible, but not for God.
All things are possible for God.”
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
We’ve probably all read or heard today’s gospel passage about 100 times. On its face, it is easily one of the most bewildering conversations in the entire Bible, because we can all clearly see ourselves talking to Jesus here. This man comes to Jesus concerned with how to obtain the eternal life he’s heard about. In his typical attitude of self-fulfillment, he knows that this is something that he wants, but likely, he sees it in the same light as all of the other possessions he’s amassed for himself.
Jesus, of course, knows this man’s heart, and starts by pointing out the obvious things that this man already believes are the answer to his question: “You know the commandments”, Jesus says, and lists them out. The man is probably relieved to hear that he’s been right all along, since “all these he has observed from his youth”.
The next line in the passage is “And Jesus, looking upon him, loved him, and said to him ‘You lack one thing’…” There are volumes of meaning packed into those 15 words. Jesus truly did know this man’s heart. He knew he was a good man, a devout man, but a man attached to worldly things. He knew that this man amassed possessions for himself as a misguided way to compensate for the thing he was truly searching for, what we all truly search for deep in our human hearts, a loving relationship with our Creator. Jesus pitied and loved this man for the true desire he longed for.
What was this “one thing” that this man lacked? It was a heart free of worldly concerns and burdens, a heart wholly given over to God. Jesus’ final answer to the man’s question was for him to let go of all the things that occupied his heart outside of God. He needed to give up his attachments to his material possessions and follow Jesus. As we see, tragically, this was too tall of an order for the man, and he went away from Jesus filled with sadness.
Note that it is not the possessions themselves that are the danger, it is the attachment to them that is the barrier to fulfillment. God gives his gifts to his servants in different degrees, so that they may use these gifts to benefit others. Some are given the gift of wealth so they may have a chance to utilize that wealth to better the lives of the people they come across. This surely can be hazardous because it is not hard to fall into the trap of attachment to such wealth, but as Jesus also pointed out later in the passage "all things are possible with God." We need to embrace whatever gifts are given to us by God, and with a heart wholly given over to Him, use his grace to redistribute those gifts as He desires.
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
“All things are possible with God.”
What worldly things am I attached to?
How can I better utilize the gifts God has given me to benefit others?
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
“Jesus, looking at him, loved him”
"Thank you for the gifts you’ve given me."
"Show me how you want me to share your gifts."
For the Rest of Your Day...
Find something you are attached to that you might be willing to give up today. Is it something that you could give to someone else for their benefit? Let God’s grace show you how to use the gifts he’s given you.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Jim Lundgren.