IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CRISIS
Before Jesus can get going down the road, some man comes running up to him. It seems he’s in a hurry to solve his problem: «What must I do to inherit eternal life?». He’s not concerned about the problems of this life. He’s rich. He’s got everything going for him.
Jesus puts the Law of Moses to him. Curiously he doesn’t rehearse all the 10 commandments, but only those that prohibit doing something against your neighbor. The young man is a good person, a faithful observer of the Jewish religion: «I have kept all these since my earliest days».
Jesus looks at him lovingly. The life of someone who’s never done harm to anyone is admirable. Jesus wants to attract him now to work together with him on his project of making a more human world, and he makes a surprising proposal to him: «You need to do one thing more. Go and sell what you own and give the money to the poor….and then come, follow me».
The rich man has many possessions, but he lacks the one thing that would let him truly follow Jesus. He’s good, but he’s attached to his money. Jesus asks him to renounce his wealth and put it at the service of the poor. Only sharing what’s his with the needy could he follow Jesus, collaborating on his project.
The guy feels helpless. He needs well-being. He’s powerless to live without wealth. His money is before everything else. He rejects following Jesus. He has come up running enthusiastically toward him. Now he goes away sad. He will never know the joy of working with Jesus.
The economic crisis invites us followers of Jesus to make tracks toward a more sober life, in order to share with the needy what we have and simply don’t need to live in a dignified way. We need to concretely ask ourselves if we want to follow Jesus right now.
The first thing is to look at our relationship with money: What do we do with it? What are we saving for? What do we invest in? With whom do we share what we don’t need? Next we need to look at what we consume in order to do it more responsibly and less compulsively and frivolously: What do we buy? What do we buy it for? Whom could we help to buy what they need?
These are questions we need to make in the depths of our conscience and also in our families, Christian communities and Church institutions. We don’t need to make heroic gestures, but if we take small steps in this direction, we will know the joy of following Jesus, contributing to making the crisis of some people a little more human and bearable. If not, we may feel ourselves to be good Christians, but our religion will lack joy.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf