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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Lord, what must I do to inherit eternal life?

On Wednesday night, I gave a talk on the scripture readings for this upcoming Sunday (October 15) to the RCIA class. The RCIA at my parish is liturgically-based; that is, each week, we present the readings for the upcoming Sunday, and if possible, tie them in with the scheduled lesson for the week. Well, as a fledgling teacher, I was given a simple task of acting as prayer leader (not so simple for me) the task of speaking on the scripture of the week.

The readings are for this upcoming Sunday, the 28th Sunday in Ordinary time. I read them all, but my focus was the Gospel reading.


The young man appreached Jesus, knelt down, and asked Him, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus replies to him, "Follow the 10 Commandments."

The young man goes on to say that he has done this...yet the reply of Jesus was not to praise his good behavior, but rather, to tell him that there is more to be done. God is asking for something RADICAL, not the mundane. Not the everyday. We are expected to follow the Commandments, so something greater is needed...the next step. Jesus tells the young man to give up all that he has, sell his belongings and give to the poor.

Then the Gospel says that the young man went away sad. Every Bible commentary or reflection I have ever read says that he was sad because he was rejecting Jesus, that he was sad because he was too attached to his material possessions and could not give them up. Yet I have to wonder why we always tend to focus on the negative. Let's look at this another way--maybe the young man was sad because, yes, he had to give up his attachments to earthly goods, but the Gospel never says that he didn't return to Jesus, having carried out the task as instructed. The Gospel is silent on this.

This last summer I attended a Bible Conference and met a woman who happened to be a United Methodist Pastor. I asked her what brought her to a Catholic Bible Conference, and she revealed that she was raised Catholic and believed, for a myriad of reasons, that she was coming back to the Church. She and I had a wonderful conversation and ended up sitting together that first evening of the conference to listen to the keynote speaker.

That evening, after the speaker, there was an Exposition and Benediction.

For those of you who don't know, this is when a large consecrated host (Blessed Sacrament), which is the Body of Christ, is placed into a monstrance (which is the container that displays the Blessed Sacrament) which is then placed on the altar for adoration. Certain prayers are said and there is time for personal prayer with Jesus. It is a very powerful devotion.

That night, when we had first come into the sanctuary to hear the speaker and we entered the pew, I had genuflected to acknowledge Jesus as all we Catholics do, but she had commented that she just "wasn't there yet." I told her that was fine; she should only do what she felt comfortable with. Yet before the Exposition began, I leaned over and explained to her what was going to happen and that people would be kneeling yet she did not have to do so if she was not comfortable with it, so remaining seated was OK.

Well into the prayers and adoration, I became aware that she was, in fact, kneeling, and shortly after that, I became aware that she was crying.

The next day I saw her at Mass, and again, she was crying. I did not approach her as I understand those moments...I've had them myself and the LAST thing we criers want is to have our tears acknowledged by anyone by God. Later on that day she came to me, very excited, and revealed that at Mass, she'd gone forward at Communion to recieve a blessing. She said she couldn't stop crying, and this made her realize that she really WAS Catholic, and she was coming home. She recognized Jesus in the Eucharist, and the seperation between Jesus and herself was breaking her heart.

The Pastor was and is really LIVING this Gospel message. She was sad because she was leaving her home, because she lived in a parsonage, she was leaving her ordination which was also her career and way of life, and thus her income. She was leaving all she had known as an adult, all because she was being called by Christ to become Catholic.

What a difficult task! Of COURSE she was sad! Of COURSE she went away crying, but that did not mean she would not trust in God and understand, believing the promises of Jesus that her sacrifices would be returned to her a hundredfold.

God is not asking ALL of us to make such sacrifices. He is not demanding that we leave our careers, families, and other possessions in order to follow Him. But he IS asking us to realize that everything we have is a gift from God. Our homes, our families, our possessions, our careers and the paychecks we take home...all of that comes from God. He doesn't necessarily want us to give up everything...but rather, to consider those gifts and be willing to break our attachments to our material possessions. God DOES want it all in a sense...just our willingness to give it back to Him.

During the Mass, there is a section called the "Offertory". It is not, as I used to think, just a time to sit and wait for the next thing to happen. This is a prime opportunity to consider the people in our lives we need to pray for, or to remember those we have spiritually brought with us to Mass. It is a time to take an inventory of what God has given us and consider, what, in return, we can give back to Him. What talents do we have? What are we good at? It is not just about throwing some change in the collection plate, but about prayer, offering of ourselves and being united with Jesus.

As it also states in the Gospel, Jesus acknowledged how hard it is for us to break with the attachments WE ALL HAVE. And he acknowledged that for us, it is impossible...but for God, all is possible. He will give us the grace to carry out what He is asking us to do.

This week, sit down with these readings, consider them, pray about them, and consider what God is asking YOU to offer back to Him, whether to your family, your work, or to the Church. What are your gifts? What can you share, and give back to God? It is about trusting in Him and remembering that all we have comes from God, and He will fulfill His promise that he will give us the grace we need to make our sacrifices, and he will return our offerings a hundredfold.

Everything we have comes from God. What is He asking YOU to give back to him this week this month, or this year? What grace is he giving you to enable you to make this sacrifice?


Unknown said...

You are going to make a great catechist/teacher, Adoro!

You explain things well and use great examples. I learned a couple of things tonight from you.

Tim said...

Miss Adore,
that was a lovely story about that lady- what a great challenge to the RCIA members.

Cathy said...

Awesome post, as usual!

Anonymous said...

well said!

Sarah Reinhard said...

You are definitely in the right calling, being a catechist with the RCIA program at your parish! Thank you for sharing this lovely and insightful post on the carnival, and keep up the great work!