Pondering the story of the rich young man, Merridith Frediani considers whether we put enough trust in God.
An amazing feature of sacred Scripture is how God can tell us new things through stories we’ve heard often. Recently in a small group, we read the story of the rich young man, and God reminded me again that He never finishes talking to us. Even in stories we’ve heard many times, He brings new insights.
The rich young man is already faithful. He follows the commandments. He is a good Jew. He doesn’t kill or steal; he doesn’t commit adultery, bear false witness or commit fraud, and he honors his parents. Despite this he isn’t satisfied. He desires eternal life and somehow knows there is more expected of him. He approaches Jesus, recognizing wisdom and authority in Him, and asks what else there is. Jesus tells him to sell his stuff, give away the proceeds, and follow him. The man, we learn, “went away sad, for he had many possessions.” (Mark 10:22)
Jesus was asking for total surrender and trust. Trust that you do not need those things. Trust that if you follow Me you will have eternal life—the thing you asked for, the thing you desire. The rich young man couldn’t do it. He couldn’t take that step into the unknown. He was attached to his stuff but also to the control and comfort it brought. When he asked he didn’t realize that what would be asked of him would be hard. Darn hard.
Our churches contain many good Catholics—people who love God and follow the Commandments. They show up at Mass each week, give money to the poor, volunteer at food pantries, organize meal trains, and help out at the Catholic schools their children attend. They make sure their kids are baptized and receive all the requisite sacraments. They are good people doing good things. Is it enough to get to heaven? We don’t know. Only God knows.
What we do know is that God asks for more. He doesn’t just want good works; He wants all of us. He wants us to stop relying on ourselves and start relying on Him. This is the part of our faith journey where we confront what God truly means to us. Is He the center of our life or is He one more calendar item? Why, really, am I doing all the things? What is He asking me?
Click to tweet:
God asks for more. He doesn’t just want good works; He wants all of us. #catholicmom
Our response to an invitation to go deeper is often “I’d like to … but I just …” God calls us to more, but it feels like it is too big of an ask. “I’d like to inherit eternal life, but I don’t want to sell my stuff.” So many of us follow the Commandments but we struggle to trust that if we have the radical faith Jesus is inviting us into that all will be okay. We trust Him ... but to a point. We hold on to the metaphorical stuff.
Jesus’ ask is hard and He tells us that. He also promises to be with us along the way and he revealed to St. Faustina “if your trust is great, then my generosity will be without limit.” (Diary 548) This Advent as we prepare for Christ’s birth, ask yourself how God is calling you deeper. What does He want you to let go of so He can shower His generosity on you? Like the young man, ask Him—but don’t walk away sad. Ask Him next for help in doing what He asks.
Copyright 2022 Merridith Frediani
About the Author
Merridith Frediani loves words and is delighted by good sentences. She also loves Lake Michigan, dahlias, the first sip of hot coffee in the morning, millennials, and playing Sheepshead with her husband and three kids. Merridith writes for Catholic Mom, Diocesan.com, and her local Catholic Herald. Her first book, Draw Close to Jesus: A Woman’s Guide to Adoration, is available at Our Sunday Visitor and Amazon. You can read more at MerridithFrediani.com.