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.”
It is because Jesus loves this young man that He challenges him. By many standards, this man has done all that he has been asked to do. He has kept the law since his earliest days. Yet, he comes to Jesus to ask what he must do to inherit eternal life. Either he wants to be affirmed in how excellently he has kept the law or he feels there is something more to which he is called.
Jesus looks at him with that gaze that pierces through the heart and is filled with a great love for this young man. The authenticity of His love compels Him to call the young man to something greater. Jesus tells the young man to put aside everything of this world and to follow Him. It is out of love that He invites the young man to run with reckless abandon in the race for Heaven.
Yet the man leaves saddened. Though he follows the law, he is unwilling to set aside everything for the Kingdom of Heaven.
Jesus issues His challenges out of love, but they vary based on the person. Some He invites to follow Him and they cannot, refusing to leave behind possessions or family. Others long to follow Him and He tells them to remain home, sharing the Good News among their own people. When it comes to living in God’s will, there seems to be no one-size-fits-all approach for the Lord. His will is customized to the individual and it often seems to be contrary to what we want.
This is why the life of contemplation is the boldest and most adventuresome of undertakings, for what could be more radical, more truly earth-shattering, than the willingness to be dismantled and created anew, not once or twice in a lifetime, but day after day?
The Way of the Disciple, Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis
He is not satisfied by things done half-way. Our souls, though we may attempt it often enough, cannot be half His. The young man wanted to comfortably follow the law and yet Jesus calls him to a life he did not expect. Sell everything? Why? Where is that in the law?
While I may be tempted to mentally chastise the young man (Jesus was asking you to follow Him! How could you not?!), I must admit that I am he.
Daily, Jesus asks me to leave behind what I hold dear and to follow Him. He looks on me in love and challenges me to move beyond complacency. To my conservative, thrifty nature, He tells me to spend freely and sell what I have stored up, trusting that He will continue to provide. Jesus wants me in a place where the only option I have is to rely on Him. And I keep insisting on back up plans and secret stashes “just in case” something should go wrong.
As we commence this Lenten marathon, let us consider what the Lord is asking us to surrender to Him. He wants unrestricted access to our hearts. When we look at the lives of the saints, we see what the Lord did with souls who were willing to be reformed by Him. Thousands of times during the course of their lives, they were re-molded and re-shaped to match the desires and will of the Lord. This reformation is what the Lord desires of our hearts, too.
This wild, unruly heart beating within me is crafted for holiness. Lent is not so much a desert as it is encountering the blistering love of God, a love that purifies and burns away the earthly attachments that cling to us. His gaze pierces to the depths of our being and calls us to respond freely and wholly. And, out of an overflow of love, He shows us our lack and asks us to follow Him.
He transformed very ordinary and unpromising persons into active vessels of divine grace, a feat that only God himself can accomplish through a work that merits the name of re-creation.
The Way of the Disciple
May this Lent be a time of being re-created more fully into the image of God. When the Lord calls us to follow Him, may it provoke great joy rather than sadness. May the hearts beating within us be radically different after this Lenten journey.
You have unrestricted access to our hearts, Lord. Come, have Your way in us.