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28th Sunday

There are moments when we must answer the crucial questions about the core of our lives, the center our hearts, the thing we treasure the most. The recent disastrous typhoons, when people were fleeing their homes and running for safety, unleashed the priorities of every human heart.

Some people fled with their money and jewelry. Others immediately took their favorite appliances to higher grounds. Still there were people who took care that pictures, diplomas and documents were saved at once. Many people thought of things to save from the threatening floods. But many also were those who thought of their children and elderly parents or sick relatives. Heroes emerged among us when people indiscriminately dived into the murky waters to save whoever was drowning among their neighbors.

What would you have saved if you were in the same frightening and near-death experience? Who would you have dragged to safety in the midst of the rushing and engulfing floodwaters? Certainly, who or what we instinctively save first, ranks first also in our hearts. They are, to us the most important things or the most important persons.

The gospel episode today shows Jesus confronting a young man with this same question of his life’s center, his life’s core. The young man found it easy to follow the Lord by observing the laws he has received from his religious upbringing. If all it takes to get to eternal life is to observe the commandments, this young man surely will reach it faster than the others. Observing the law was easy for him.

But Jesus wanted to uncover for the young man the real treasures of his heart, the real values he cherishes. The Lord Jesus invites the young man to give up his riches, share it with the poor and then, come follow him. From the description of the gospel, we have the idea that outward observance of the law was easy for this young man, but his heart was really attached to his riches. This he could not surrender and he fell silent and went away sad.

What was Jesus trying to do? The Lord wanted this person, his disciples and all of us to know that he demands total attention, love and faithfulness. If we are to be true followers of Jesus, we must not only adhere to external observances, but really surrender our lives to Him. Jesus must be the center of our lives. Relationship with him must be the most important thing in the life of a Christian.

If you were to look into your heart today, would you say that Jesus is the most important person in your life? Do his words affect you in a positive way? Are his teachings the basis of your actions? While it is easy to put up an appearance, it is not easy to really live for the Lord and by his commandments of love and service, of total obedience and fidelity. And yet, this is what it really means to have a personal relationship with the Lord.

Let us spend this week thinking of Jesus’ call to make him the center of our lives. Shall we too, go away sad? Or joyful and free?