Catholic boy Pete learned of the amazing feat of the saints who helped bring people to heaven. He befriended a younger boy, Danny and convinced him, under his mentoring, to consider receiving Holy Communion so he could get to heaven. Together the boys went on their “quest” to get closer to God, an adventure that took the form of a triathlon test for the younger Danny. Pete did not fully understand that Danny was of a different religion (Jewish) and that he was dying of cancer. All that mattered was that the two were willing to do everything they could to reach their goal. (remembering the wonderful US indie film “Stolen Summer”)

These two boys appear to be more serious with their religious aspiration than the man who approached Jesus in today’s gospel. Initially appearing zealous about the Kingdom, he asked the Lord what the conditions were for obtaining eternal life. Jesus offered to him first the way of the commandments and he found that quite easy to muster. But when the Lord raised the ante by demanding total surrender of everything the man possessed, he went away sad.

Today the Lord reminds us that entering the Kingdom demands an all-consuming desire for God and an absolute detachment of the heart from all material and earthly hindrances. This definitely involves obeying God’s laws. But more than this, it means the willingness to even lose everything while retaining only the love of the Lord in one’s heart. And this is where the problem usually happens. Religion has many regulations, requirements, and stipulations. One can safely observe each of these and survive the scrutiny of people who see the veneer of actions and performances.

For Jesus, faith, more than external conformity to laws, calls for total trust, total surrender, and total abandonment into the hands of the loving Father. This is not easy at all, not convenient. For some of us, this will mean holding on to the faith in the midst of hatred and persecution. Or continuing to believe in the midst of crises and doubts. Or trusting Divine Providence in moments of difficulties, terminal illness, and serious loss. Or groping in the darkness of unknowing, uncertain of what the future holds.

Jesus, I cherish many things which are really attachments that slow me down in following you. Give me the power to shake off all these obstacles to total trust in you. Grant me the grace to obey your commands, and most importantly, to offer you all that I have and all that I am. Amen.