Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Be Good, Do No Harm ***

S. Matthew 19: 13 – 30

O. Parents and a rich man come before Jesus seeking his blessing and guidance. The disciples question Jesus similarly and Jesus offers further teachings.

A. The disciples start this reading trying to protect Jesus from having to bless the children brought to him by parents. Jesus says, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children." It seems apparent that Jesus does not need or seek protection, yet the disciples consistently attempt to do so. We don’t need to be protected by anyone either. God has led us to where we are and what is happening in our lives for a reason. We need only have a deep relationship with God and the universe to discover and trust in this.

Next, a man comes before Jesus, asking
“’What good deed must I do to have eternal life?’
‘Why ask me about what is good?’ Jesus replied. ‘There is only One who is good. But to answer your question – if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments . . . You must not murder . . . commit adultery . . . not steal . . . not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.’
‘What else must I do?’
‘If you want to be perfect, go and sell all of your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’
But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.’
People seeking guidance often don’t want guidance. A wish or a response is already in mind and if they do not hear this, they will leave feeling unfulfilled. Here, Jesus shows amazing patience. The young man continues to push, and Jesus follows up with further guidance, to challenge the young man as he had challenged Jesus.

Until we become one with God and the universe, we cannot be saved. If we’re expecting to find some answer as to how to do this outside of that deep relationship, we will be unsatisfied as we’re already saved. Jesus makes it simple, follow the commandments. He makes it simpler, highlighting the commandments involving others. He goes even further, making it about the giving away of possessions to the poor and the needy.

Jesus then turns to the disciples and goes further.
“'It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!’
The disciples were astounded. ‘Then who in the world can be saved?’ they asked.
Jesus . . . said. ‘Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.’
The Peter said to him, ‘We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?’
Jesus replied . . . ‘But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.’’
The way into heaven is a very narrow gate. It is actually humanly impossible to enter this gate. “But with God everything is possible.” Once again, Jesus points out that it is through our deep relationship with God and the universe that we enter Heaven. We must become one with God.  The disciples’ faith is not complete, even now. They still fear not having met the requirements to enter heaven. Jesus has continued patience for them and for all of us, because of our humanity.

The way in which we treat those that we deem or who seem as less important is crucial. It is easy to be kind, gentle, patient and compassionate to those who have authority over us, or who hold influence over us or others. We understand what it means to be good to others. We just often choose not to hold ourselves up to that level with every interaction with every single person we encounter. If we are to be judged, it is by our interaction with the “least important” that we will be judged.

The commandments Jesus highlighted as being most important all involve how we approach and behave toward others. ‘Don’t hurt others, honor them’ is the simple message. If we have something to give, we should give it freely to those who are in need. This is the way through that narrow gate to heaven.

P. May I honor all I encounter and not hurt them.

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