Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Call for Balance in Our Lives

Mt 19:16-22

A young man approached Jesus and said,
“Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?”
He answered him, “Why do you ask me about the good?
There is only One who is good.
If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
He asked him, “Which ones?”
And Jesus replied, “You shall not kill;
you shall not commit adultery;
you shall not steal;
you shall not bear false witness;
honor your father and your mother;
and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
The young man said to him,
“All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?”
Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go,
sell what you have and give to the poor,
and you will have treasure in heaven.
Then come, follow me.”
When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad,
for he had many possessions.

With the permission of Father Romeo Seleccion, MS, the presider at the Mass when this reading was presented to the community from the Gospel of Saint Matthew, I proceed to paraphrase the reflection that he gave.

First of all, the touching part of the meditation that Father Romy guided is that it is a personal witness coming from the depths of his conscience. It is fairly rare that we hear a priest say, "I was thinking about this last night and this morning as I was taking my walk. In fact I think of this passage a lot. This is what I get out of it."

"For me it is a question of balance. Our relationship with God and with people has to be balanced. The man who approached Jesus was not a bad person. In fact he was a very good person. Imagine, he observed all the commandments all his life. Yet he was not feeling fulfilled and didn't know why. So he asked Jesus what was left for him to do. What Jesus told him did not have so much to do with the fact that the man had to get rid of all his belongings but that he had to balance his life between taking care of his own spiritual life and helping other people to develop a spiritual life as well. Jesus was pointing out to him that obedience to the Law calls for sacrificing our own spiritual and material comfort in order to offer it to others who need it. It is only when we balance our interests with the interests of the mission of God that we can be happy and in the process make ourselves and others saintly inhabitants of the Kigdom."

"Balance in our lives is not easy to achieve. How comfortable we are when we pray the rosary quietly. How happy we feel during our prayer meeting with the support group that we attend. How generous we feel when we pray for the sick, the grieving and the poor. The reading that we have just heard tells us that this is not enough. It is one sided. To strive for perfection we still have to turn to the other side and start doing something to make the sick, the grieving and the poor feel the presence of God in us and in themselves. We have to bring them the happiness that we find in our prayer lives. When that happens, then we are in balance and at that point we are truly following Jesus, just as He has commanded us."

"Yes, there are some things that are hard for us to give up, or to give away. I personally do not need an expensive car to drive. I don't need to live in a palace. There is one thing that I can't do, I can't get rid of my laptop. Don't even dream of asking me to do that. Nevertheless, I still seek to live in balance."

Leaving the quotation marks aside, I can say that I was touched by this meditation. Fr. Romy is a missionary who has left everything and everyone that is dear to him behind to follow Jesus. He, of all people would seem to have a balanced attitude about the pursuit of perfection through the imitation of Christ. It was remarkable to hear his witness this morning. It was evident that Fr. Romy has taken some time to consider and reconsider this invitation of Jesus and has taken it to heart. I thank God for giving him the grace of inspiration to bring his intimate feelings to us before the altar of the Eucharist.

With a saintly attitude like he has, I don't have to remind him not to cry at my funeral.

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