WHEN SORROW ISN’T A BAD THING

Saturday, August 18, 2018

 

     “And behold, one came up to him, saying, ‘Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?’ And he said to him, ‘Why do you ask me about what is good? One there is who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.’ He said to him, ‘Which?’ And Jesus said, ‘You shall not kill, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ The young man said to him, ‘All these I have observed; what do I still lack?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’ When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions. And Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Truly, I say to you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’ When the disciples heard this they were greatly astonished, saying, ‘Who then can be saved?’ But Jesus looked at them and said to them, ‘With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’” (Mt 19: 16-26)

 

     The point of this passage is not to draw our attention to this or that “good deed” that we “must do,” to enter into the “life” that is communion with the Source of Life, God. And of course our Lord’s point here was not to drive either us, or the “young man” with “great possessions” to despair, by indicating to us and to him that which most of us “still lack” in “perfection.” But just as the spiritually-ambitious “young man” became “sorrowful,” – perhaps for the first time in his affluent life, – the Lord’s whole point here is to awaken in us a “godly sorrow” or thirst for the only “One there is who is good,” God, in Whom our "impossible" is always "possible." Unlike the crippling, merely-human “sorrow” that arises from our perfectionism, when we focus on “our” good deeds or “must do”s, the “godly sorrow” that we receive in Christ’s call, to follow Him, gives us the life-bringing humility and peace of focusing on the one-and-only goodness and perfection Who is God. As St. Paul writes, “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” (2 Cor 7: 10)

 

     Thank You, Lord, for putting my heart and mind to rest today, in the joy-creating “sorrow” of my “lacking” in Your light. “Come to me,” You say to us today, “all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Mt 11: 28-30)

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