We Walk Away

Christ is asking us to give away all that is blocking us from the deepest longing of our hearts…unity with God. That could be money, or it could be any litany of things that we hold onto for dear life…things like excessive worry, the need to control, the urge for unrestrained carnal pleasure, addiction to drugs or alcohol (or any addictive behavior), the need to consume more and more, the unrelenting desire to succeed at all costs, the need to be constantly entertained, the need to be always on the move, always striving for something we don’t have…the list is endless. So much of modern life distracts us from God. Every day we face an onslaught of images and messages hurled at us from the media, Hollywood, and the world of business. Life has become a whirling dervish of frenetic activity. We live life in fast-forward. There is no time for stillness and silence, no time for reflection. No time for God. We are too rich, too busy, too preoccupied with satisfying our own desires. Jesus is saying: stop…stop everything that leads you away from God.

The more we are focused on the material world, the less we will be focused on the spiritual realm. Jesus was telling the rich man to give away all he was clinging to, and to cling to God alone. Jesus is asking us to become radically dependent upon him alone. I’m slowly learning that I can accomplish nothing on my own, but with Christ, nothing is impossible. But I easily forget that truth. Following Christ is truly hard because it is truly countercultural. I once met a humble Franciscan friar who had dedicated his entire life to serving the poor. He told me the only things he owned were his sins. Sin, at its root, is nothing more than a failure to love. This ultimately is what Christ is asking us to give away: anything that hinders love. A Buddhist monk once said: “If you have compassion, you cannot be rich…. You can be rich only when you can bear the sight of suffering.” He understood what Christ was saying to the rich man in Mark’s Gospel. God is calling us to deeper and deeper levels of love, mercy, and compassion…and we need to give away anything that thwarts our response to that call. And so our faces turn sad and we walk away because we have so much.

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