On Monday, the young man asks Jesus what he must do to gain eternal life. Jesus instructs him to keep the commandments; 'all this I have done; what must I do to be perfect?' Jesus replies, 'Sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will be perfect.' He went away sad because he was very rich.
Tuesday, we have the classic 'rich man vs. camel' parable.Yesterday, the parable of the vineyard owner who gives everyone a job and pays them all the same wage - regardless of how much/little they worked. Today, the king gives a wedding feast where the invited guests fail to show up, so everybody gets an invite with one condition: wear the clothes I give you.
For years, I have heard these parables and read them, and often thought, "I don't get it." or "this doesn't apply to me, I'm not rich." Tuesday, as we drove to our day's appointments, we listened to some different meditations on the readings (via the Laudate app - it's free, and I HIGHLY recommend it; I use it every day). One meditation focused on the question, "What are you carrying?"
"What are you carrying, dear Jessica? What burdens you so, today?"
Immediately, I pictured this in my head: me, struggling to carry Dan.
Dan has this game that he likes to play: the "I passed out & you try to get me to safety" game. I don't know how, but he is able to make his whole body just go heavy and he makes try to move him. It is impossible. Then he laughs and says things like, "if I passed out on you, you would move me like that?" And I tell him it's a stupid game and not funny and we shouldn't 'play' at things like that.
And that was this picture: me with all the weight of Dan upon me trying to move forward...but finding that I could not; that the weight, the burden was too much for me.
What do you need to give me so that you can walk? What burden do you need to surrender to my care?
But, Dan? Didn't you give him to me? You want me to let go?
Well, dear one, how are you doing with that? Does he enjoy being carried much?
Well, no. He wants to walk his path.
So, does your effort to carry a man who can walk - and wants to walk...is it helping either of you?
Well, no. But, I want to help him. I don't want him to have to do this alone. I want to keep him from as much pain as possible.
I know you do; and I gave you the heart of a helper - and he is not alone. I am with him; you are next to him - but this path, you cannot walk for him. He must walk his path; you must walk yours. You cannot carry him, but I can. And, dear one, let me take this heaviness, so that you can walk beside him. Because, let's be honest, right now, you aren't getting anywhere but frustrated.
Yes. Yes, you are right. Oh God, help me to trust you. Help me to trust you with my most precious cargo.
Dear one, your beloved is my son, too. As dear as you are to me, and he is to you - so, he is to me. I know this road does not make sense, but trust that I will make this path straight. Trust that this path will bring about a greater glory than either of you can imagine. I do not promise easy, but I promise you will find LIFE. Do you believe that?
Truly I say to you, it will be hard for one who is burdened [rich] to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again, I say to you that it will be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is burdened to enter the kingdom of God.I picture it like the entrance is only big enough for me...and if Dan is in my arms, we can't fit. That doesn't mean Dan doesn't get in - it just means that I can't bring him. He must choose of his own accord...and he must enter alone.
When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said, “Who then can be saved?”Jesus looked at them and said, “For men this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”It is a hard teaching to swallow; it is an act of faith to surrender the ones you love, the identity you cling to for purpose and definition. Why is it faith? You trust that you will receive it back, that what comes next could be better, even if the road is hard. You trust that the One who calls you is faithful and will do just what He says He can & will do.
Thank God for Peter asking that question, we then all wonder as we take this step of faith:
Then Peter said to him in reply, “We have given up everything and followed you. What will there be for us?”
Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me, in the new age,when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones,judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life.But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”[Matthew 19:23-30]