Sometimes, like a loving Father, God punishes His children. At other times, though, God may not actively punish people, per se, but rather allow them to suffer the consequences of their own actions. We see this in today’s first reading from Judges 2. The people continually turn their hearts to other gods and away from the one true God. So God allows their enemies to overtake them and permits bad things to happen to them because of their evil deeds. I’m pretty sure that still happens today.
In the Gospel reading from Matthew 19, we see Jesus having an encounter with a young man who has many possessions. We have come to know him as the Rich Young Man. He tells Jesus that he observes the commandments, and wants to know what else he needs to do to gain eternal life. And Jesus drops the big bomb on him. “Sell what you have and give to the poor…then come, follow me.” Not what the Rich Young Man wanted to hear.
How do those words make you feel? Quite honestly, they scare me. I’m perfectly comfortable in my current situation. But I think that Jesus’ message to us is not so much about selling all that we have, but being WILLING to sell all that we have. To let go of material possessions. From not making things, and the accumulation of things, more important than following Jesus. Words that ran counter to the Rich Young Man’s sensibilities, and words that run counter to everything the world tries to instill in us.
Father, help us to be willing to relinquish our attachments to material things. Give us the desire to sell all that we have, that we may follow Jesus wherever He leads. Amen.