My nephew is a very good body builder and he invited me to the Mr. Ireland show that he was competing in last Sunday. I’m not all that keen on big muscles, though maybe I’m envious, but I went anyway because I love him. And there I found myself in a big long queue outside the Olympia, easily the oldest and smallest man around.
About an hour into the show my nephew’s group arrived on stage – 23 of them all tanned and oiled in speedos. They did their 35-second routine as a group and out of this group six were chosen to contest the final. When they called my nephew’s name as one of the six I let out an uncharacteristic roar of delight. I was hooked! As he came on to do his solo routine my heart pounded and I trembled for him. And then something happened to me, to my vision, my way of seeing – I no longer saw the muscles, I was no longer observing on the edge. I saw my fine handsome nephew, a young man who has a hard time of it in life, and I was proud of him, rooting for him with my whole being.
And his late mother, my sister, was in the air between us. The audience didn’t know it but I knew that he was doing this for her and I was filled with tears, the stronges of emotions. Love and loss!
I understood that it was no longer me looking at him with my limited vision but it was Love that looked at him, it was God Himself seeing my nephew through me and I was seeing with the eyes of God. There’s an ordinary way of looking at people and life. And there’s a godly way of looking.
This is what Jesus is doing with the young man in today’s gospel. He looks steadily at him and his gaze is filled with love and truth and it is under this beautiful gaze that the man is offered an opportunity to grow and to advance further on the road of Life – the freedom of the children of God. But, sadly, the man did not accept the opportunity offered because it demanded too much of him.
The journey into the fullness of life is very demanding, in the way that an athlete prepares for competition. My nephew gave 16 weeks of rigorous training for last Sunday and I found myself saying that if I put as much effort in building up my soul, then I’d be in great shape altogether. The condition of the soul is infinitely more important than that of the body but we don’t give it the kind of attention necessary for eternal life.
Our question to Jesus is, “what must I do to build up my soul so that I am fit for Life eternal?” and Jesus gives two answers – one is keep the commandments and the second is that you need to do something more than the commandments ask. He looks at you now with love, sees you with loving eyes and says “you need to do one thing more”.
Ask yourself, what is the one thing, what is the one thing that is blocking your way to fullness of Life, what’s stopping you living the kind of life that Jesus calls you to live?
When confronted by the horrific tragedy of the families in Carrickmines today, we need a Godly way of seeing such tragedies. When a pregnancy doesn’t work out we need a Godly way of seeing, when a loved one is trapped in addiction we need a Godly way of seeing. When faced with a person that I do not like, someone I find difficult to get on with, I pray to see that person as God sees him or her.
In all our struggles we need to learn to see as God sees, to understand as He understands, to Love as He loves and in this to discover hope for our own personal journey and that of other people.
Sunday 28, Mark 10:17-30