We all have fears – and my fears are probably not your fears. I have a fear of spiders and snakes and heights. You might have a fear of flying or doctors or dogs. . . For almost anything we can name – elevators, bridges, enclosed spaces, darkness and dampness – someone, somewhere, is afraid of it.
And when people are asked about their fears – certain ones are almost always at the top of the list – including death and public speaking – which usually is ranked higher than death, which is really quite interesting when you think about it.
Oh yes, there is another fear that usually makes it into the top five — the dreaded: fear of commitment!
We tend to joke about this last one – but for some people – it is a real problem. . . Some people have a hard time taking out a mortgage – worried about owing someone else for so many years.
Some are afraid to pursue academic degrees beyond high school – worried that they won’t finish and will have wasted a great deal of money.
Some people might be interested in military service – but NOT if it means signing up for more years than they would like.
And of course the big commitment fear – the fear of relationships! Some people just get cold feet and push others away once they start to get too close. >>
I guess you could say that many people often want to maintain their freedom and don’t want to get tied down to anything or anyone. They want to do what they want – when they want!
SO — What about our commitment to God??
And the truth is – even though people sometimes fear certain kinds of commitments – others they willingly embrace.
Some people would never think of missing an episode of their favorite television show.
Some people golf on the same day of the week, with the same people – and would never think of skipping a round.
Some have the latest phone the day it comes out – even if their current phone works just fine.
Some people place their children’s sports ahead of absolutely everything else – including Mass.
Some have never missed a single day of jogging or working out in years – or never have a problem working out conflicts when it comes to watching a particular team play on ESPN. . .
Yes, some people may have a fear of certain commitments — but not all commitments.
SO –What about our commitment to God??
That seems to be what Jesus is trying to get his listeners to consider in the conversation he has with the rich man in today’s Gospel. >>
We know the story well. A man wants to know what he needs to do to inherit eternal life.
He is obviously a good guy. He follows the commandments –and Jesus has no beefs with him. But Jesus does challenge him –and anyone within earshot – which means you and me —- and Jesus looks at him lovingly – a detail that should not be overlooked – and tells him he is only lacking one thing:
“Go sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven. . .”
There goes Jesus again! Just when we are getting comfortable. Just when we’re feeling pretty good about our relationship with him. >>
Just when we are thinking we are obviously pretty good guys – or gals —— he shakes things up – rattles our conscience – makes us wonder if we can even call ourselves a disciple. . .
SO — What about our commitment to God? Are we just dipping our toes in the water – while Jesus wants us to dive in?
We sometimes forget that Jesus’ message is NOT an easy one. We try our best to “tame it” – or water it down – try to make it into something that won’t require much effort. . . And yet would our God have chosen to become one of us, walk our journey, and ultimately die for us — simply to teach us how to be NICE??
Jesus’ life was a radical one – demonstrating a radical amount of compassion, a radical amount of mercy, a radical amount of forgiveness and generosity, and gentleness and love. Nothing about Jesus was “watered down.” His life was over-flowing in everything we believe God is – and everything God calls us to be!
SO — What about our commitment to God? Are we afraid to be fully committed to Jesus – out of fear that it will just cost too much?
The hardest thing to wrap our minds and hearts around, I think, is that we tend to think following God’s will is going to be restricting for us – that it will hold us back – that it will take away our freedom.
Yet, in faith, we are taught the opposite is true. God’s way is always the best way. God’s way will always bring us a fullness of life in ways we can’t even imagine on our own.
God’s way is pure freedom – a life free from anything and everything that makes us less than who God created us to be.
Our way – our own selfishness – is actually what leads to spiritual bondage – leads us to the chains of a self-centered life, leads to the slavery of sin.
God’s way – leads to something meaningful and life-giving – something worth giving up everything in order to have.
Like the rich young man – God looks lovingly at us – and wants so much more for us than we usually end up settling on in life. May our commitment to God be something we never fear – but something we readily embrace, each and every day. And may no other commitment ever take a priority in our lives.
BE NOT AFRAID!