What does Jesus ask of young people to do? What is His message for them? What is His challenge for them? Today in the Gospel reading we are given that message and as the Gospel was read and as the homily was given I began to reflect on the many conversations I have had with people who I care deeply about, whether close friends or kids in the youth groups I have been apart of and am apart of now. Todays Gospel was about the "rich young man" who, after having observed faithfully the Commandments all his life, went to Jesus daring to ask Him, "what more must I do?" Point number one, this man new that he was still lacking something. He was still empty inside despite everything he had already done. I think it is very common for people to feel this longing for something deeper and more substantial in their lives. Young people especially are drawn to finding the deeper meaning to things. Point number two, this man had the courage to ask Jesus what more he could do. I think often times we have the feeling that there is something more and we desire something more and we know without a shadow of a doubt that there is in fact something more to life than what we have, but we often fail to take the extra step of what this man did and stand before Jesus and actually ask him for the answer to our question. I think we often fail to do this because we are afraid of the answer and we see in the Gospel that the man despite having that longing for something more and despite having the courage to ask did not like the answer he got. "What more must I do Lord?" And Jesus says in reply, "Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven: then come, follow me." The man then walks away sad because he has many possessions. I cannot begin to express how frustrating it can get for me to talk to so many young people who have the same response as this man in the Gospel. We find ourselves living in a society that teaches us that more is better and we must keep ourselves busy all the time with the various material things in our lives which we must have or we will not be happy. And not necessarily always material things eaither. I think the main point that Jesus has for young people and really all people is don't let your possessions get in the way of entering into relationship with other people and most importantly not letting things in this world get in the way of entering into relationship with Jesus Christ. And if they do keep us from entering into that relationship then go and sell them and give to the poor. When I talk to young people I get this general message. They are like the man in the Gospel who know there is something more, something deeper, some even have the courage to ask what more must I do, though not very many are able to get this far, but then the ones who do get that far then react like the man in the Gospel. But to be fair every once in a while some do follow Jesus' last instruction and when they do they are truly happy because of it. What is keeping us from building a relationship with Jesus? We may think that our relationship with Jesus is good as it is. We may think that our faith life and our prayer life is good enough. The only problem with that is that in this life we will never be at that point in our relationship with God that we cannot go deeper. There is always more, but do we accept that? We have our Ipods and Ipads, we have our cell phones, we have our playstations, X-Box's, and Wii's, we have DVD players and T.V.'s. We have computers full of things like Facebook and Myspace. We have Twitter and texting. We have school, we have work, and we have sports teams. But do any of these matter if we don't first of all have a deep and continuosly growing and deepening relationship with Jesus? Do the things I have mentioned above often keep us too busy and take our focus off of our faith and prayer life? The question I think Jesus is asking in this Gospel passage is, "are you, my children, who I love so deeply, willing to give up the things that distract you from Me? Are you willing to give these things up and in response enter into a deeper relationship with Me? Are you willing to Give up everything to follow me?" He calls the man in the Gospel to not only sell his possessions, but also to follow Him. Are we willing to do this? Can we let go of everything and follow after Christ? Lent is coming up soon. A perfect time to maybe start getting rid of the things in our lives that distract us and start spending more time in prayer, more time at Church, more time with each other, people who are a positive influence and will help us grow in our faith, and ultimately more time with Jesus. It is a very challenging message. But it is what Christ asks of us. Are we willing to answer His call? Are you willing?
Peace and all good,