Hopes for 2019: The Rich Young Man – The 9th Day of igNation’s 12 Days of Christmas

Source: youtube.com

One of my favourite poems is the one by Robert Frost The Road Less Taken.  In the poem, the final line resonates in my memory.  “two paths diverged in the wood, and I took the one less travelled and that has made all the difference.”

It seems that the rich man as well was posed this same dilemma.  The youth was one who followed the commandments well enough.  He seemed to be desirous of greater and greater degrees of perfection.  Here is someone who already lived on the margins and was doing quite well for themselves.  Above average we could say.

Yet, Jesus sees the heart.  He sees the attachment and is aware of what is truly holding the individual back.  He gives the man two paths.  Sell all that you have.and follow me  (Mark 10:21).  Or the young man can choose to do nothing and continue on his own way.    The Rich young man has two paths before him, one leads to life and Christ, and the other leads to sadness.

If I may be so bold, it seems this little incident in the Gospel,  is the answer to all the problems that the Church finds herself in today.  Church attendance is on the decline. Families are having fewer kids.  Religious congregations are no longer attracting vocations in the same way as they once did.

Yet, ultimately there is an attachment in the heart.  An attachment to property, comfort, and even honour.  Yes we need money to live.  Yet, the fundamental question seems to always be, with all the pitfalls and unknowns of life, can we truly trust that God will provide for our needs?

In a way, the decision of the rich young man makes sense.  He doesn’t have the benefit of 2000 years of hindsight behind him.  Selling all that he has would mean that he would be stuck with the decision of following Jesus.  What if Jesus was rejected?  What if Jesus was killed?  What if the movement fell apart?  These are legitimate concerns, all of which on a single night came to pass.

Here I would like to argue is our challenge for 2019.  Let us use hindsight in our favour and take the road less travelled.   Let us sell all that we have (all that we take pride in, everything that gives us that little “ego boost,” and to make things a little concrete all of our material wealth.

Let us put aside our comforts and the things that bring us security in favour of the unknown unknown on the horizon.   Then let us follow Christ the Messiah as though there was nothing else that mattered.  Then I think we will have treasure in heaven. Then, we will have the answers that deep down we were always seeking.

Raj Vijayakumar is a Jesuit collaborator with a Masters in Theological Studies from Regis College. He is currently residing in Toronto.

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2 Comments
  • Peter Bisson, SJ
    Posted at 01:14h, 04 January Reply

    Thank you very much Raj!

  • C.
    Posted at 23:49h, 10 January Reply

    Thank you for the reflection!

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