17th August 2021
THE TOUGH DEMANDS OF FAITH ARE MADE DOABLE BY GOD
Today's Gospel reading is preceded by the encounter between Jesus and the rich man who asked him, "Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?" Jesus answered him, "If you would enter life, keep the commandments."
The rich man replied that he has observed the commandments and even goes further to ask if there is anything else that he lacks in order to have eternal life. What he lacks, Jesus tells him, is to sell his possessions, give to the poor so as to have treasure in heaven then follow him. Jesus terms this as perfection.
If this is perfection how come the rich man chose to go away sorrowful? Did he feel overwhelmed by this demand for perfection? Biblically, perfection means giving due consideration to what you have never thought about, and you do this by striving to achieve an intended goal. The intended goal here is to gain eternal life and this gaining of eternal life is preceded by considering selling one's possessions.
If the rich young man felt overwhelmed by the demands from the teaching of Jesus, then he is not alone. When Jesus tells his disciples that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God, they wonder who then can be saved, this wonder comes from the demand placed on them by Jesus.
Peter also seemed overwhelmed to the point of asking Jesus, " Behold, we have left everything and followed you. What then shall we have?!"
Those days wealth was considered a sign of blessing and so Jesus teaching that possessing wealth actually makes it harder to enter the Kingdom was likely a shock. Peter was wondering if even the wealthy couldn't make it, then who could?
Peter seems to be reminding Jesus that the disciples have no wealth, that they have left all things to follow him. Will they atleast qualify to enter the Kingdom of God?
This is a hard Gospel reading that we may want to wish away but it gives us the opportunity to see that it is not the moment to think of it as talking about reward and punishment but it invites us to see that it's not easy living according to the demands of the Kingdom of God but with God everything is possible.
There is no aspect of life that has no demands from parenthood to marriage, to politics to vocation in the church and when you feel that the heat of this demand makes you sweat you may want to walk away like the rich young man.
But what if we consider getting deep into the demands of our faith and strive through God's help to understand them, sometimes we walk away because we do not understand them and we have not given them a thought. Faith normally starts as an idea but it requires decision making and action and versatility.
Let us notice here that Jesus is speaking to those who have already made the decision to follow him; who have left the comforts of home and have moved into uncharted waters and he reminds them that, in those uncharted waters, God makes it possible for them to wade through. What do you find to be very demanding in your life of faith and why is it demanding?