Jesus wasn’t a grumpy man but he was spotting on a problematic issue in the life of the man who came up to him straight away.
A few years ago I heard of a man who had a number of health issues. One day he heard that a new doctor was opening a surgery in the neighbourhood. The people were saying that it was a blessing that the man decided to move into their area and to work among them as he was a sought-after GP. So our friend couldn’t wait to have an appointment with the new doctor. He was telling everyone that after those other hopeless doctors, eventually they had got a true professional. He booked his appointment. He went to see the doctor and… he never went to him again. After some weeks someone asked him what happened at the appointment. He answered: “He told me I need to lose weight.”
My Dear Sisters and Brothers! At the core of the Gospel is the call to conversion, to change one’s life. Following Christ is not about having spiritual conversations and theological disputes but it is about being challenged by the “Word of God which is alive and active; it cuts like a double-edged sword but more finally” as were read in the Letter to the Hebrews.
The man from the Gospel got cut to the quick by Jesus’ words. He went away sad. However we can always hope that the episode from the Gospel, which wasn’t a happy end, wasn’t an end at all. We can hope that it was the beginning of a freeing process for the rich man who realised how much he had grown addicted to his wealth. It became such an integral part of his life that he couldn’t imagine his life without it.
As we listen and observe this situation from the Gospel I hope we can put ourselves in the shoes of the man from today’s Gospel, who is a representative of many in our society, and in our Church as well, who have great desires for goodness, friendship, integrity of character etc. but at the same time experience many attachments which take away from them the joy of following Jesus. The Gospel for this Sunday gives us some indication how to assist them as it shows Jesus who “looked steadily at the man and loved him.”
As in our society there is so much misunderstanding regarding love I usually try not to use the word love on its own. One of my favourite combinations is: “PEDAGOGICAL LOVE”, (by the way some friends of mine said to me that my way of talking about love kills all the romance) which indicates such an approach you take which stimulates the person to move forward, to keep maturing in human, faith, personal and social aspect.
In order not to finish on a sad note I would like to take us away from the Galilee, where we met the rich man coming to Jesus, and to reach the destination of the journey Jesus was beginning in today’s Gospel. I mean Jerusalem. Let’s take a place among the Apostles at the Last Supper who were sad realising that they were going to “lose” Jesus but Our Blessed Lord said to them: “You are sad now but your sadness will be turned into joy when you see me again.”
If we can speak about a happy-end to the process of maturing which we support with “PEDAGOGICAL LOVE” it is about being aware, and applying this awareness to life, that life without Jesus is a sad one. Amen.