Well, it wasn’t exactly his fault. I mean, he wasn’t even driving. He wasn’t even in a car. In fact, the nearest car was some 2,000 years away.
Yes, I’m referring to the rich young man that Christ addressed in Matthew 19:16-22, and it’s the story of today’s gospel message: Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to [the] poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
There’s a lot to unpack here. But one thing that I’m pretty certain about, after some reading, listening, guidance, and reflection, is that Christ is not calling each of us to a life of poverty. The stories of Job, David, Solomon, and Joseph of Arimathea easily put that notion to rest.
No, there’s another – and much harder – point. And it should be pretty obvious: it’s not riches that block us from receiving the fullness of God’s grace. It’s our hearts. It’s our reaction to His call. It’s our response to His grace: “For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.”
This may well have everything to do with our riches. But more than likely it doesn’t. Consider: we as Americans, no matter what our level of affluence, remain fully entrenched in the top 1% of the world. And many of us undertake good works with our riches. In turn, so does the Church throughout the world – which couldn’t do so if universal poverty were the goal.
No, it may be our failure to give of our time to those in need. Or it might be our luke-warm emotions in response to the over-flowing grace that fills our lives and families. Or it could be our self-affirming, self-centered prayers – or our non-existent ones. Well, something is blocking each of us from receiving all of God’s grace. What is it? Is it our personal riches after all?
With time, reflection, prayer, and patience, I’m just now beginning to grasp mine. But man, I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me still.
So why “hit and run”? In all honesty, the truncated sermon I heard today was that Christ, in this passage, was asking us to “step up our game just a bit.” True, yes. I think that he is always asking us, leading us, compelling us to do just that. But I couldn’t help but walk away with the feeling that we missed the mark today. A timely message was lost in a service that felt all too rushed in just under 25 minutes. How I wish that we could have taken even five more minutes and drilled a bit deeper, reflected just a bit more.
An unfortunate “hit and run.”