Here I am Lord,
Speak to me
within my heart and soul.
I am listening.
"What must I do to inherit eternal life?"
There is something satisfying about following the rules. Even when they are hard and difficult to obey it is still a good feeling - knowing where you are and where you should be.
I was a good child – despite the jeers of my friends, I listened to the Law and I tried to obey it. Each rule, each word spoken by the priests gave my life direction and purpose. Whenever a new situation came along there was no problem – I could simply look to the Law and I would know the right way to behave. I could go to bed at night and offer my day to the Lord knowing that I had met all His demands; that I had been a good and faithful servant.
When I came to listen to the prophet it was with confidence, with the knowledge that I was not the same as the rest of the crowd. He seemed to attract those who knew nothing about the rules; who didn’t know about how to behave; who had plenty to learn.
When I asked the question I saw that he was pleased, that this was a chance to teach them a lesson. When I gave the answer I thought I saw admiration, even love in his eyes.
But when he challenged me, invited me to follow his path to eternal life, it was my eyes that fell. The Law told me that my wealth was proof of God’s love for me and here I was being asked to give it away. The Law had told me to take care of my family and I was being asked to leave them behind. The Law of Ages had been my guide for all of my life and I was being called to follow this roadside preacher who had come from nowhere.
And it was too much; too unexpected. There was no answer to give.
What else to do, except to return home with questions, with doubts.
I had looked into his eyes and known that he spoke the truth; but how could I do it?
How can I make that leap of faith that had no need of the Law; that asked only that I follow?
Riches beyond compare
It is easy to sympathise with the rich young man. He seems to have done everything right. And still is willing to ask the question – what else must I do?
But was he expecting that answer, or was he expecting to be told that there was ‘no more he could do’ that he had, indeed, earned eternal life in the eyes of the Law. Which I’m sure he had – but as St Paul tells us the Law doesn’t save us. It is our streetmap of faith; it shows the direction we should go and it helps us to get there, but it doesn’t give the details and it doesn’t allow for the detours and distractions that will happen along the way. It won’t tell you what to do in a storm or when you are attacked; when you meet up with others who need your help or when you are completely lost.
Only faith does that. Only faith can give you the instinct to follow your nose towards where God is in your life, towards grace.
But how hard is it to give up the map and follow your instincts?
Another journey to think about for Lent - a journey that will resemble the labyrinthine spiral that leads into the heart of God.
May the blessing of the Sacred Three
The Father who gave us the Word
The Son who is the Word
The Spirit who opens the Word within us
Be with us today and evermore.Amen