by Fr. Jerome Molokie, O.Praem.
Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to 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.”
You have probably heard from this pulpit, from many of our priests, that St. Mark’s account of the rich young man is the only one that adds the detail “loved him” to the text, and that is true. Sts. Matthew and Luke mention Jesus looking at him, but St. Mark adds those two words—“loved him”—which make the narrative all the more poignant.
Now, how many of you notice the phenomenon in life of being irritated when you are going about your business and someone comes and greets you, breaking your pace to do what you think you need to do? Those little irritating speed bumps along the way of the day. We have places to go and things to do; we are very busy doing important things. And we push away Jesus, who is looking on us with love.
We will feel particularly lonely and even feeling a little sorry for ourselves that we are not included in invitations—“life is so lonely”—and yet turn down people asking us to do something with them out-of-hand, because “we are too busy.” We push away Jesus, who is looking on us with love. And indeed, what seems like a stunning fact—that this young man would look on the face of Jesus, who was looking at him with love, and walk away because he wanted to keep his objects—if we consider our own behavior, becomes less surprising.
It takes real humility to allow yourself to be loved. Because we want to be loved for our own reasons: because we are so clever, or beautiful, or rich, or powerful, or “holy.” When someone of our ken just wants to be with us, under any pretext, just because we are, that’s a little uncomfortable for us, and we risk turning away from Jesus and going away sad, wondering why we are so lonely in life.
A wise prayer to make, full of wisdom, would be to ask the Lord to make us aware of the days of our visitation: those encounters when someone is looking on us, and asking for a kind word, a smile, a moment’s patience as we rush through life. This is not a little prayer. We are asking for a great thing in making it: a change of heart, conversion.
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