This Gospel shows a young man with all the zeal in his heart wanting to inherit eternal life. Jesus looks at him and loves him. I meditate on the response, however. Is it not about following the narrow way?
This is a meditation on this Gospel from one of my sisters:
“Jesus, looking at him, loved him . . .”
The man in today’s Gospel asks Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Yet when Jesus tells him to “sell what you have and give to the poor,” the man walks away sad, because “he had many possessions.” But why did he just walk away? Why didn’t he ask Jesus for a clarification? Why didn’t Jesus call him back and ask for an explanation? Herein is the mystery of freedom. God never forces himself on us but leaves us free to choose. The man in our Gospel is looking for a deeper relationship with God. Is he so attached to his possessions that he can’t see his life without them? Jesus invites him to live not so much in calculating what he should not be doing (stealing, killing, lying . . .) but rather in how he can help the poor, those less fortunate than himself. Yet, he just walks away.
Even more striking is the phrase that Jesus looked at him with love. What does he see in this person? Whatever it is, it moves Jesus to invite him to be a close follower. As we contemplate the word of God, Jesus looks at us with love. He extends this invitation to us also. Jesus wants us to share in his relationship with the Father. Through our Baptism we have already been brought into this awesome relationship. We are sons and daughters of God. The Gospels reveal how Jesus lived this relationship. He was constantly aware of the Father’s presence and addressed his prayer to the Father. Jesus was vigilant for the poor, the hungry, the sick, and the imprisoned. And we know how the Father regards the Son: “This is my beloved son . . .” (Mt 17:5). Jesus is our example for everything. We don’t have to forge our own way in life. If the Father asks me to trust, he has given me Jesus as my example. If he asks me to love others, he has given Jesus as my example.
If you have enjoyed this meditation, you’ll find meditations on all the Gospels in the Ordinary Grace series Ordinary Grace Weeks 18-34