1 Peter 1:10-16; Mark 10:28-31
In the very short reading from Mark’s gospel, we hear the frustration of Jesus’ followers. The reading comes at the end of a series of questions and answers circling around the question of salvation. Jesus’ followers want to know what they must do in order to be saved. The dialogue back and forth between Jesus and his followers seems to go round and round never quite getting to the answer – at least an answer his followers can understand. A man must leave his parents and be joined to his wife, “what God has joined together, let no one separate.” There must be no divorce or adultery. “Whoever does not receive the kingdom or God as a little child will never enter it. And he took them (children) up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.” To another, Jesus says that you must keep the commandments. In addition to this “you must sell what you own, and give the money to the poor….” In no uncertain terms, Jesus says, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God.” In frustration his followers ask, “then who can be saved?” Peter demands an answer in his plea, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus’ final words seem to offer little or no comfort, “But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”
As a parent might say, what is good for one child is not necessarily appropriate for another – even a sibling. It is in the intimacy of the parent child relationship that trust, confidence, loyalty and love are experienced. It is in this intimate relationship that a parent is most effectively able to guide a child, even an adult child. Jesus illustrates the desire of God to be in intimate relationship with God’s children in His taking up (children) in his arms, laying his hand on them and blessing them. God wants to be intimate with us.
To be in an intimate relationship with God provides the opportunity for me to discern the gradual unfolding of God’s unique love, desire and vocation for me. God reveals Godself to me in a personal way in the unique intimacy of our relationship. Am I to leave family and home? Am I called to live in the fullness of family? How am I to cooperate with God’s desire for me? What will lead me to my salvation may not necessarily be what will lead you to your salvation. The universal invitation from God is to be in intimate relationship with God – that alone will lead each one of us to salvation. In the empty fullness of my heart I will be able to discern the voice of God. The guilt, the shoulds, the have tos and the messages I tell myself when I compare myself to others are not the loving voice of God. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are truer indications of the presence of God.
How does God attempt to communicate Godself with me?
How does God get my attention?
When God has my attention, how do I feel and how do I know that it is God?
How do I feel when God takes me into God’s arms, holds me and blesses me?
By Joan Howard