All In

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Illustration by Br. Martin Erspamer, OSB, a monk of Saint Meinrad Archabbey, Indiana. Used with permission.

The apostles were shaken up. They had just seen a good man who kept all the commandments walk away sadly because he could not part with his material treasures. 

What about them? Do they have a shot at this kingdom for which they dropped everything to follow Jesus, a man who certainly had unusual powers and claimed a direct line to God? More important, as we see in a later scene with James and John, will they have high positions in this kingdom (Mark 10:35-45)? 

We too have our attachments and desires as we take timid steps toward God. We want to embrace God’s way: one of unconditional love for us, unlimited second chances for the asking, and compassion for each other. Yet why can’t we have both this peaceable kingdom and the things that make us feel safe, secure, and important? 

Because when we hold back, we assume God’s abundance is no match for our insurance protections. We overvalue what we have. We fear that we bear pain all on our own. We think love is possible without loss. We deduce that a little bit of God is possible and enough. In other words, we approach our salvation as if we are at a buffet table: a bit of this, a bit of that, a little bit of God. 

Jesus tells us plainly it is not possible to serve multiple masters. God is not divisible into palatable and optional parts. We must be all in, or we will come up foolishly empty. 

This seems impossibly hard. But instead of walking away from Jesus like the rich man, we turn wholeheartedly to God for help. Only with and in God are all things possible. 

© Liturgical Press.

Carolyn Woo

Carolyn Woo is the retired CEO of Catholic Relief Services. She and her husband, David Bartkus, are the parents of two adult sons.

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