Radical Faith

10-10-2021From the Pastor's DeskMsgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

“What must I do to inherit eternal life?” That is a question a man asks Jesus in today’s Gospel (Mark 10:17-30). The older we get, the more questions about what life will be like when we die come into our minds. Thinking about life after death is not to escape from the present moment but to put it into focus. Jesus responds to this man and his question by telling him to keep the Ten Commandments. The man replies that he does keep the commandments but knows in his heart that is not enough. There is something missing. Jesus tells him, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven, then come follow me.”

That statement can seem very troubling and threatening to us who live here in middle class America. But when we look beyond what might seem impossible, difficult and impractical, we can see the point. When we focus merely on money and material possessions, we can become protective and defensive of what we have. We do work hard and are in a difficult financial time in our nation with prices continuing to rise. The last thing we would ever do is sell all our possessions and give the money to the poor. That is a radical step. Last Monday we celebrated the feast of St. Francis of Assisi who lived from 1181 to 1226. He was a man who sold all he had and gave it to the poor. To this day he has followers who are known as Franciscans. They live the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. That is a radical lifestyle in today’s world.

But we are all called to be radical. That does not mean we are extremists who espouse different and strange beliefs. It means we are radical in the sense that our minds, hearts, and souls are rooted in the faith, hope, and love of Jesus. Our true treasure is not our money or possessions. They offer security and pleasure in very legitimate ways. Our true treasure is the gift of love - being loved by others and loving others. Our role model, companion, friend, and brother is Jesus, God Himself. One of the inspiring joys at Mass is praying the first part of the Eucharistic Prayers for Various Occasions where there are these prayerful, hopeful, encouraging and inspiring words: “You are indeed Holy and to be glorified, O God, who love the human race and who always walk with us on the journey of life. Blessed indeed is your Son, present in our midst when we are gathered by his love, and when, as once for the disciples, so now for us, he opens the Scriptures and breaks the bread.”

How radical God is! He is firmly rooted in His love for us. The creator of all things, the source of all life and wisdom walks with us on our journey of life. How aware are we of His presence. We always carry those we love in our minds and hearts. The very thought of them brings joy, gratitude and life. We bring joy and life to God by our presence in His life and of course He brings joy and life to us. It is good to be a radical Catholic. That means we are full of divine love, hope, mercy, and wisdom. It means we are already experiencing a taste of eternal life. How good it is when that reality is a part of all we say, do, and think every day.

I offer Psalm 121 and its accompanying prayer from the Breviary for your prayerful reflection.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains;
from where shall come my help?
My help shall come from the Lord
who made heaven and earth.

May he never allow you to stumble!
Let him sleep not, your guard.
No, he sleeps not nor slumbers,
Israel's guard.

The Lord is your guard and your shade;
at your right side he stands.
By day the sun shall not smite you
nor the moon in the night.

The Lord will guard you from evil,
he will guard your soul.
The Lord will guard your going and coming
both now and for ever. Glory…

Psalm Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, you have prepared a quiet place for us in your Father's eternal home. Watch over our welfare on this perilous journey, shade us from the burning heat of day, and keep our lives free of evil until the end.