Looking Deeper: Finding God
Thoughts on the Second Readings by J. Frankenfield
18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Ephesians 4:17, 20-24
“I wish I knew that what I’m doing made a difference,” said the middle-aged man sitting across the table. “I know it’s how I support my family but beyond that I just don’t seem to be doing anything that matters. I market fancy lighting fixtures: who cares!”
Matthew tells the story of a young man who approached Jesus asking what he had to do to find eternal life. Jesus invited him to set all his concerns aside and follow him. Whether he was too attached to his own way of doing things or simply afraid of setting off in a totally new direction, the young man didn’t accept. He turned down the opportunity, saddening both himself and Jesus.
That a person who was, by normal standards, successful and got that way following the community’s rules would be searching for a better way of living should make us stop and think. What was he looking for? Eternal life? The phrase the writer puts into his mouth, can mean many things but it distills to a life united to God or, setting aside religious language, a life that makes sense in the grand scheme of things. The young man was asking the same question that we all face: what’s this whole thing really all about? What am I doing here? What difference does all this make: you, me, everything?
Jesus answers the man’s question with a standard response: do what you’ve been taught. When the response comes back, life still seems empty, Jesus invites him to enter a deeper discussion where the vision mirrors our deepest dreams, the promise as well as the risks are immense and the journey’s map will be written anew every day until the arrival.
Jesus invited the young man to become a mystic but a practical one, one concerned with the everyday realities of life in a way more profound than he had ever tried. Every human being gets that offer every day. It is the gift of faith to have the courage to take it up.