Then someone came to him and said, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?”
And Jesus said, “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “I have kept all these; what do I still lack?”
Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Sometimes we delude ourselves into thinking that the right job, a certain luxurious car, or a substantial bank account is what’s most important in life. But the life of Jesus depicts a different approach. He did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage. Rather he chose to be born in lowly status and live as a poor man.
St. Ignatius, too, turned his back on riches and honor. He believed that the foundational human experience was freedom – freedom from attachments that would get in the way of our relationship with God. “True freedom,” he said, “is gained when we are indifferent to health or sickness, wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or a short life.”
The biting tragedy of the story of the rich young man is that he couldn’t accept Jesus’ challenge to live in true freedom. He “went away sad.”
Ask God, “How am I not free?” Take note of what God says.
—Sister Ruth Hoerig is a writer and co-editor of Alive magazine and social media content developer for the School Sisters of St. Francis. She is author of Seeds of Hope: Catholic Sisters in Action Around the World.
Oh Lord, grant me the freedom into which I know You are calling me. May nothing ever distract me from your love, neither power, prestige or possessions. Help me to be free from any “disordered inclinations” that prevent me from following You more fully.
Show me the place of balance in my life – that place of “holy indifference” where I am free to want only you. May I never seek nor choose to be other than you intend or wish. Amen.
—Sister Ruth Hoerig