Wednesday, October 17, 2012

With Jesus in the midst of the crisis

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
October 8, 2012

Mark 10:17-30

Before he sets out on the journey, a stranger approaches Jesus, running. Apparently he's in a hurry to solve his problem. "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" The problems of this life don't concern him. He's rich. He has everything solved.

Jesus confronts him with the law of Moses. Oddly, he doesn't remind him of the ten commandments, but just those that prohibit acting against one's neighbor. The young man is a good man, a faithful observer of the Jewish religion. "All of these I have observed from my youth."

Jesus looks at him fondly. The life of a person who has not harmed anyone is admirable. Now Jesus wants to draw him to collaborate with him on his plan to make the world more humane, and he makes a surprising proposal: "You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, give the money to the poor...and then follow me."

The rich man owns many things, but he lacks the one thing that would allow him to 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 by sharing what is his with the needy will he be able to follow Jesus and collaborate on his plan.

The young man feels incapable of doing so. He needs to be well off. He isn't strong enough to live without his wealth. His money is above everything. He renounces following Jesus. He had come running enthusiastically towards him. Now he goes away sadly. He will never know the joy of working with Jesus.

The economic crisis is inviting those of us who are followers of Jesus to take steps towards a more sober lifestyle, to share with the needy what we have and simply don't need to live with dignity. We have to ask ourselves very specific questions if we want to follow Jesus in these times.

The first is to review our relationship with money: What should we do with our money? Save it for what? Invest in what? With whom do we share what we don't need? Then review our consumption to make it more responsible and less compulsive and superfluous: What do we buy? Where do we shop? Why do we buy? Who can we help to buy what they need?

They're questions that we have to ask in the depths of our conscience and also in our families, Christian communities, and Church institutions. We won't make heroic gestures, but if we take small steps in that direction, we will know the joy of following Jesus by contributing to making the crisis a little more humane and bearable for some. If not, we will be good Christians, but our religion will lack joy.

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