Are You Saved?

"I have observed all these commandments. What do I still lack?" (Matt 19:21).

The young man who came to Jesus wanted to know if he was going to be saved. When Jesus told him to keep the commandments, he felt reassured because he had kept all of them. Was there something more?  Jesus saw his openness and took him to the next level.  "If you want to be perfect," Jesus told him, "go, sell what you have and give to the poor, Then, come, follow me."

The cost of discipleship proved too much for the young man, He thought that if he kept the commandments, most of which were about what we are not to do, then he could live out his life without further demands or the need for conversion. When he thought about letting go of his "many possessions," he realized how attached he was to them-- or they to him -- and he turned away in sadness.  He had come so close to an intimate companionship with Jesus and the chance to follow him, and he knew he was not ready for such a leap of faith or the courage to let go of his former life. 

It is indeed a sad story. Matthew tells us that this was a young man, someone with his whole life ahead of him, able to freely choose his ideals and to act with the generous abandon that the young have, before commitments and responsibilities limit their options. He would not likely ever have this chance again. 

Discipleship is first a journey of the heart. We see goodness in someone or something and we want this for ourselves. We may begin by inventorying our lives to see what is holding us back, then decide to risk everything to be what we dream of being. Who wants second best, a second-hand faith or a life of compromise and ambiguity?  

What Jesus offered the man was a way of life that would free him to follow his heart. "Come, follow me" meant, "Live and I am living." Jesus traveled light, unburdened by attachment to things, trusting that what he needed would be provided day by day. He lived simply, using what he needed but no more, seeing material things as belonging to everyone for the good of all. He lived a life of purpose with priorities, attentive to others and alert to their needs, especially the poor, the oppressed and the outcast.  He lived joyfully and spontaneously.  No wonder the young man was attracted to him. 

Our discipleship offers us this same way of life. Day by day, little by little, we can answer the call if this is what we want. Do not turn away sad. What is so important that it could keep us from saving our souls?