Tearing Down the Walls to Community

Matthew 19:16-22

A young man approached Jesus and said,
“Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?”
He answered him, “Why do you ask me about the good?
There is only One who is good.
If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
He asked him, “Which ones?”
And Jesus replied, “You shall not kill;
you shall not commit adultery;
you shall not steal;
you shall not bear false witness;
honor your father and your mother;
and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
The young man said to him,
“All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?”
Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go,
sell what you have and give to the poor,
and you will have treasure in heaven.
Then come, follow me.”
When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad,
for he had many possessions.

In this passage, Jesus tells a young man that to reach eternal life, he must keep the commandments. Peculiarly, Jesus lists the social commandments that give us guidance in our relationships with other people. To have a right relationship with God, we must have a right relationship with other people.

I believe it is in our relationships that God is found. I believe God is just as present in my relationship with my mother as with my best friend as with the guest at Siena/Francis Homeless Shelter that I ate dinner with on Monday, as with the co-worker I do not necessarily get along with. For in each of those relationships belongs love and patience, and we must approach each person in recognition of their sacredness. It is not always easy and I will be the first one to say that I do not always treat each person with this amount of love and respect. But I must continue challenging myself to have these right relationships with others.

Then Jesus throws a bit of a curve ball and tells the young man to “sell what you have and give to the poor”. Often our possessions take priority over our relationships with others. Here Jesus calls us to rid us of the things that keep us from having deep relationships with others. I cannot tell you how many times I will be sitting with others and we will be on our phones or social networking sites. This is absolutely a possession that keeps us from having right relationships with each other. We are not present to each other; we are connecting with the outside world. It is a blessing and curse all in one. It is incredibly convenient and wonderful to be able to call my parents at almost anytime or text my friends to see when they are going to dinner, but at what point does it detract from my here and now? This is just one example of how things keep me from relationships.

So today, we will end with a reflection.

First, let us thank God in deep gratitude for the people and relationships in our lives, the ones that are easy and the ones that are more challenging. Let us take some time to reflect on what some of the relationships bring us, whether it be a practice in patience, the ability to deeply love, or the new perspectives it offers.

Next, let us reflect on what keeps us from truly being in those relationships. Why are those things keeping you from the relationships? What can you do to change that? If it is your cell phone, maybe put it out of sight and on silence while you are at a meal with friends or family. If it’s television, turn it off and spend time outside or playing games with family or friends. We all have barriers to our relationships; it is the recognition and active practice to rid ourselves of those barriers that will make our relationships with others and ultimately with God that much more fulfilling.
*I am so excited to cart this journey of Cortina with all of you! In peace, Elizabeth

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