Monday, November 24, 2014 – Proper 29, Year Two
[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]
Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:
Psalms 106:1-18 (morning) // 106:19-48 (evening)
In today’s gospel, Jesus encounters “a certain ruler.” The ruler acts like he wants to know what he must do to inherit eternal life, but he seems to need applause more than a genuine answer.
Unfortunately for the ruler, Jesus didn’t come to form a mutual admiration society. The ruler starts by calling Jesus, “Good Teacher,” but Jesus won’t let himself be flattered. He responds, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.” Jesus won’t take any credit for goodness.
Jesus also won’t give an answer to a question that wasn’t asked in earnest (“What must I do to inherit eternal life?”). Instead, Jesus just points out that the ruler thinks he already has the answer and doesn’t really want one from Jesus. As Jesus tells him, “You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; etc.'” The ruler proudly confirms that he has kept this complete checklist of commandments from a young age. To the ruler’s surprise, Jesus tells him, “There is still one thing lacking.”
Now that Jesus has broken down some facades, he and the ruler can have a real conversation. There will be no more buttering up with compliments and no more fishing for affirmation. Jesus instead points the ruler straight to the barrier that stands in the way of this man’s path to the kingdom, and to a real relationship with Christ.
Jesus says, “Sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor . . . then come, follow me.” Jesus tries to shake this man loose from his pretenses and from his possessions, those things the ruler clings to as signs of his own goodness. But it is only when we let these things go that we can truly and freely follow Jesus.
If Jesus could cut through the ways we flatter him and the ways we think we please him, what would he say to us? What very, very hard thing would Jesus tell us if we weren’t so busy praising him or trying to earn his approval? Surely there’s something we can let go of today in order to grow closer to Jesus, who wants to know us without barriers, obstacles, or masks.
Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.