In today’s gospel reading a young man who is not free comes to Jesus.
We know that he was a good man because he kept the commandments. But the keeping of rules was not enough for him, and neither is obedience to a moral or legal code enough for any healthy person seeking happiness in the 21st century.
This young guy was actively seeking more from life and his search led him to approach Jesus with his heart-felt question: “what more must I do?”
Jesus response to him makes it clear that he is not required to do MORE, but to do LESS. Rather than adding things to his already busy life he will find happiness when he relaxes in the knowledge that Jesus is gazing at him with love. This gaze, with the realising that we are not our own creation, brings freedom.
After looking at the zealous young man and loving him (note this beautiful detail in Mark’s report of the encounter) Jesus tells him that he will live abundantly only to the extent that he is free from his possessions.
While we are most familiar with the ‘get rid of all you own’ translation, Jesus is teaching us that whatever we possess, whatever (or whoever) we grasp at or hold on to, limits our freedom. And to the extent that our freedom is limited we will be unable to live abundantly.
Any attachment that I have is evidence of my personal insecurity and fear. We all experience this. Sometimes we grasp at and hold on to material possessions. But more often we are captivated (held prisoner) by our attitudes, habits, fears, routines and relationships. We misunderstand freedom thinking that we will experience freedom when we are able to do whatever we want to do whenever we want to do it. But this anarchy (living without order) is really a teenage confusion and can never deliver the depth of happiness that a healthy human longs for.
Like me you might also be challenged by the foolishness of the monkey: