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Posted By Eric Sammons On October 12, 2009 @ 8:13 am In Jesus Christ,Scripture | Comments Disabled
My parish priest had quite a unique interpretation of yesterday’s Gospel passage, one I had never heard before. The section he was commenting on is the following:
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.
My pastor made the point that the text does not say what the young man did after walking away except that he was “sad.” He noted that it is possible that the young man went away sad, gave away all his possessions and followed Jesus. Nothing in the text demands that we assume that he didn’t do this, although that is the more common interpretation.
I think this is a valid point. I know in my own life that whenever I give up something, one of my initial reactions is sadness. I don’t want to give it up, even if I know deep in my heart that the sacrifice is good for me. I am simply too attached to the things of this world to give them up without a fight. But then, if I am faithful in my sacrifice, I always end up joyful about it in the end. We are called to joyfully follow our Lord but it is unrealistic to think that there will not be stages in our path where we do not resist his radical call and are sad about the things of this world that we have given up for him.
A great example in my own life is when I gave up my television. For the first week I was happy to do this and it was quite easy. However, after that first week I started to be sad that I didn’t have a TV to use to waste my time (in other words, I was having withdrawals from my TV drug). I had been connected to TV my entire life (I even had a TV in my room growing up), so to think I could just give it up without some sadness is unrealistic. But after about a month or so of no TV I began to appreciate how much it simplified my life and allowed me to focus my time on greater things. My sadness did lead to joy.
We don’t know what the young man did after he walked away from Jesus, but I do think it helpful to consider the possibility that he did follow our Lord’s commands, even though they made him sad.
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