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The Lord’s Call to Give Up Everything

What does being a disciple of Jesus cost? This is the question the rich young man poses to Our Lord in Matthew 19:16 when he asks: “Teacher what good must I do to gain eternal life?” The answer the Lord gives to him in the verses that follow is astonishing to both the young man and the disciples who are present during this discourse. The Lord tells this earnest young man that he must follow the commandments, but then He goes further, and tells the young man to give up everything—all of his earthly treasures— to follow Him. The young man walks away sad because he had many possessions. He cannot go above and beyond the commandments to give up everything for the Lord because he is attached to these earthly things.

Most of us are very familiar with this Gospel passage. Do we deeply consider what Our Lord is telling us here, though? If we are not rich, we may brush it off as not applying to us. We may think we have done enough and that He is not speaking to us. We may be like the disciples who were present and think this ideal is too much for us to follow, and it is, without the grace of God. No matter our response, this passage requires much deeper attention and prayer if we want to grow in holiness. He is not only calling us to give up our possessions. He is inviting us to give up everything to follow Him. This passage is a calling for all of us, regardless of our vocation in life.

We may not be called to live a life of poverty for the Kingdom, but we are called to be detached from the good things God gives to us. The saints repeatedly bear witness to the call to find the balance between a disinterested, but grateful use of worldly things. Enjoy them for God’s sake, but also be ready to abandon them at a moment’s notice when Christ calls. We should be able to walk away from them if the Lord asks, and He often asks, so that we can grow in holiness.

He calls us to abandon sin, but He also wants us to be free from earthly attachments, even good attachments. These created goods can often get in the way of our relationship with the Lord and others. We can become addicted to comfort and those things we enjoy the most, which can lead us to lukewarmness if we are not careful, because we choose our will over the Lord’s.

The reason for this much needed detachment is that it is directly linked with both mission and deeper conversion. All of us are undergoing a deeper metanoia (conversion) day-by-day, or at least we should be. As we walk closer and closer with the Lord, He begins to show us the greater and greater costs of discipleship. He shows us relationships, habits, attachments, sins, and other areas of our lives that need to be pruned away or purified. The light of the Holy Spirit shines in our souls to reveal to us those areas where we are not free. He wants to free us, so we can love Him above all else and love our neighbor as He loves.

Read more at Catholic Exchange 

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