It’s all about the questions!
Too many times when I am at Mass, I have to struggle to attend to the readings. Knowing the story and its ending is a liability. But I have also had the experience of realizing something new, of hearing a personal WORD meant for me just when I needed it. Even so, when it is a familiar story, my good efforts don’t make it any easier to focus. (That’s why sharing inclusive language readings can be helpful, the Scriptures sound new! But that is another reflection.)
Recently, aware that I already knew the story of the wealthy young man who asked Jesus: “What must I do to attain eternal life?”, I was not prepared for Father Sweaney’s reflection. Father said, “He was asking the WRONG QUESTION!” Father went on to say that the young man was asking for the minimum, the “bottom line” of what is necessary for Eternal Life. We know that most people will attain eternal life using this formula. Why was that the wrong question?
Whatshouldthe young man have asked? Father suggested: “What MORE can I do?” Rather than asking how little will it take to claim an eternal reward, he suggests that we ask what more am I able to do to make a difference in the situations in which I find myself. How can I participate in the realization of the Kindom of God in my daily life, in my prayer, and in my actions? That is the MORE, that is the question of someone seeking GOD, someone sincerely on a God Quest. That question requires living in relationship—to myself, to all of humanity, to all of creation – for this is living in relationship with God. Living the answer to this question leads to Union with the God we seek, it leads to the Fullness of Life with the God who loves us, now and for all time, it involves a relationship of love.
Toward the end of the Gospel story, we hear Jesus say to the young man: “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have; . . . then come, follow me.” What follows are some of the saddest words in Scripture: “At that statement, his face fell, and he went away sad.”
This Scripture story continues to speak to me. I am paying more attention to the questions that I ask. I am reflecting on my prayers so that they come more from my heart than my head. As I consider relationships, I am exploring what more I am called to do and to be with self, others and all of Creation. Yet more important than all else, I put myself in the place of the young man, aware of Jesus’ gaze of love always on me and I find myself in the silence necessary to hear God’s Word.