We all know that you can do the right thing for the wrong reasons and make what appears to be something good “bad”.
It is not the quality of the finger painting that warms your heart and puts a smile on your face when your toddler comes toddling with a beaming face, covered with finger paints, waving their masterpiece to give you as their little loving creation and gift.
Notice it is a “young” man in this Gospel, with good intentions in His heart and a life ahead of him. But he’s nonetheless uneasy for some reason, not certain that he is good with God and on the “narrow” path to eternal life, despite all the good that he does, and knows he does. Why is this?
His face is not beaming like the little ones Jesus told us we are to be like, with open hearts and and vibrant, animated spirits abandoned to God’s Spirit, allowing the spontaneity and creativity of Divine life guide and fill us, rather than the two-step calculations of our own mental machinations as we live to achieve the human and earthly “goals” we have in mind for ourselves fueled by our own ambitions.
Once Jesus cleared up the basics with this young man – that he was being “obedient” to the will of God’s commands to not do evil – he then hits him with the bad news: it’s not just about what you don’t give your heart to that is evil – i.e. about being obedient to God’s commands – it’s about giving your heart freely and unreservedly to God.
With the Illumination of Conscience on our doorstep, and an evil system that has put the question to the world’s population: “who will you serve?”, that is a question that we will all be compelled to answer soon, if we haven’t already.
There will be no grey area – there will be two clearly defined choices “God” – “non-God”. Individuals are now being compelled to decide to follow only what they know and believe to be true, without compromise, or to seek to hang on to the false security of possession, attachments, jobs, incomes, etc.
These decisions made privately will either put a smile on their face like that beaming child, or send that same perhaps “obedient” person away sad for not being able to detach his or her heart from something other than God.
When faced with the decision, many people who may believe they are following God may find that they can’t seem to bring themselves to give all required – their obedience to moral good and their heart as well, notwithstanding the possibility that by making such a choice they risk losing everything else, maybe even their lives, as martyrs testifying to the truth in imitation of Jesus.
Who do you serve? I mean, REALLY…when push comes to shove, (and the shoving has already started) who will you say you serve? Will the decisions you make honour that claim?
To find out, just ask yourself how you would feel if you were to be given the same challenge that Jesus gave that young man in today’s Gospel …because guess what?
We are all being asked to give our hearts completely to Jesus as our trust and true alliance is being tested. We are to say “yes” to Jesus and the truth about everything, unreservedly, without thought or calculation, without compromise, and with total trust in the mercy and love of Jesus, as we run to Him for the protection and love that He gives that saves us and brings us into the life of God and eternal life.
Our hearts are indeed restless until they rest in God, and just as much as we long for the peace and joy and intimacy of God, often without clarity about what we are in fact seeking with our restless hearts, Jesus too wants to give us His Divine friendship.
So much so, in fact, that He allowed himself to be tortured and killed by sinners to overcome evil with good, and by “good,” I mean pure love for us, and the complete sacrifice of every and all thought for His own self, giving us the absolute entirety of Himself, out of compassion for us, to save us from the darkness of a life lived apart from God, in that restless abyss of constant longing, but never attaining.
When Jesus said,”If you would be perfect…” he wasn’t saying, “If you want to ‘do extra’….He was saying: “If you want to obey my command….” because he also said: “Be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect….”
That’s why the road to salvation is a narrow path…it only allows for one desire…one laser-like line from our heart to God.
“Jesus, give us this day the grace to cut all ties to this earth, to find concrete ways to detach our heart from affiliation with the false gods of the increasingly pagan culture in which we are immersed. Teach us how to ‘flee Babylon’ so as to to be free from the corrupting attachments that keep us tied to this sinful culture and earthly life of pleasures and pain. Give us the freedom to think only of the marvellous life you offer us in giving us yourself, with no thought to the deceptions of the evil one who makes us sad to give up and let go of what keeps us from You.” Amen.