Picture it: The rich man encountering Jesus Christ face to face. As they look into each others’ eyes, the people around them inch closer and closer. Can you feel the tension? The rich man, feeling quite sure of himself asks Jesus if there is more.
"You follow the commandments, you say? You are a good person, you say? That’s great. But it’s not enough…"
"Give it all – everything. What’s stopping you? You’ve already gone this far in your faith. It’s not going to be easy, but what I ask never is. Too much you say? No, it’s not too much. Do you know what I have in store for you in my Father's kingdom?"
"Why are you walking away disappointed? This is a joyous moment in your life. A moment where you have been given the key to your salvation! It’s so difficult for you to enter with so much wealth. Do you not understand? I want your heart to be free. I desire to give you my Father's house."
These words, not verbatim Gospel text of course, are my prayer. These are the words that I imagine my Lord saying to me. And we all know, these words are not easy words for any of us to hear. Quite frankly, last Sunday’s Gospel, our Lord is calling us out. You’re not "rich" you say? Who cares. Christ makes his point very clear.
No buts. No excuses. Simply speaking, our Lord is asking us to put away what is separating us from Him. I have said and heard many excuses over the years; It’s not convenient…I’ll wait until I’m old…the road is too difficult…etc. Like the rich man, our Lord too stares in our eyes, loving us with that same love, whispering…ever so sweetly… ever so lovingly… "get over yourself!"
I know, I know, not the most charitable example of what our Lord is saying to each of us. Nonetheless, our Lord is calling us to give of ourselves, entirely. He is calling us to no longer live with the vision of this world, living now with a renewed vision, one that looks to eternity. There may be tension, there may be commotion. Whatever the case, with a free and virtuous heart, we will pass through that ‘narrow gate’.
This week, whether it be in our schools, homes or workplaces, let us ask the Lord for an empty heart. A heart completely emptied from the riches of the world. Then, and only then, will we fit through that narrow gate to eternal life.
Jon Leonetti is a Catholic radio host and speaker, providing keynote presentations and parish missions in churches, schools and conferences across the country. You can find more information on Jon at his website: www.jdleonetti.com