A Divided Heart

file000683232896Ignorance is bliss! The man eagerly approached Jesus, oblivious to how challenging the encounter would become. Jesus’ reply to the man’s question about what he must do to inherit eternal Life changed his eagerness to sadness. Yes, ignorance is bliss. But is it?

The man in the gospel turned away from Jesus because he couldn’t let go. It’s not impossible to enter the kingdom of God because “all things are possible for God.” But it is hard to enter the kingdom of God because too often our hearts are divided—we want to let go and follow Jesus at the same time we want to hang onto our possessions and, indeed, even to their commanding our attention and focus of life. Divided hearts just won’t do. We can’t have everything we want and give all to follow Jesus at the same time. The very hard demands of following Jesus include not swerving from what is central to us—allowing ourselves to be possessed by Jesus fully and completely so that we receive the hundredfold promised those who are faithful: “eternal life.”

This gospel could be interpreted as saying that we must dispossess ourselves of everything we have. In today’s world, this is not really possible. Possessions in themselves are not a stumbling block to following Jesus. The issue is whether we are willing to let go and single-heartedly follow him. Nothing should take precedence in our lives over following Jesus and inheriting eternal Life—not possessions, family, property, or even the bliss of ignorance.

We ought to be careful about putting a question to Jesus if we are not ready to hear his answer! If we approach Jesus and ask him what more we need to do to gain eternal Life, he will tell us in no uncertain terms. Will we hold back from Jesus lest he tell us the “one thing” yet lacking in our lives? Do we choose the bliss of ignorance? Or the joy of hearing Jesus invite us to follow him and inherit eternal Life?