Mark 10:17-27 (and Matthew 6:24-34)
Yesterday I was talking with a very good friend of mine who is seriously ill. He’s not able to work and he’s facing the prospect of never being able to work again, and maybe worse, and I’ve really been admiring his faith and his trust in God.
But we were talking about Sunday’s Gospel, from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus saying look at the birds of the air, learn from the way the wild flowers grow–saying again and again, don’t worry, don’t worry, don’t worry, and how terribly hard that is when there’s obviously so much to worry about, so many things that are wrong.
My friend is waiting to hear the results of some tests he’s had, results that will determine the course of the whole rest of his life, and how on earth can I tell him to sit and wait in peace and trust and absolute faith when even after all these years I can’t stop worrying about my own, much less frightening future, the things I have to do, the problems I have to solve—can’t ever really surrender my own ego and pride and need to control things?
Jesus keeps telling me what to do, just as plainly as possible: sell all that. Give it all up. And I keep walking away. My face falls and I walk away, again and again.
It’s impossible. This is all impossible.
But only for me and only for my friend. It’s not impossible for God, because all things are possible for God.
The disciples keep thinking it’s up to them and we keep thinking it’s up to us, that the point is for us to be great heroes and saints. But the point is the opposite. In a way this passage is a joke, a wonderful, saving joke. Jesus in this passage is trying to shock the disciples and scare the disciples and shock and scare us so that he can lead us to the punchline.
In a way we should laugh at the end of this passage. We should feel this great release.
Because the answer is right in front of us.
The answer is Jesus.
All we have to do is keep standing there. All we have to do is not walk away.
And my friend and I are sitting in his living room, and a fire is burning in his woodstove, and the sun is shining through the windows, and for a moment there is a silence. We are two people in a room, and the moment is happening, and all there ever is are moments, and in all of those moments God is there, God is with us.