Year B Proper 23: Poor little rich boy

“No one is good but God.”
It was a warning. It was the truth.
The rich young ruler had plenty of responsibilities weighing him down like heavy garments, like fur rugs and gold chains. He was weary; he was worried. He did not know if he could bear the burden well enough, faithfully enough. He just didn’t know if he was any good.
Jesus looked on him and loved him.
He asked him, gently, if he had kept the commandments; he already knew what he would hear. This was a decent man, a troubled and trying man, striving to save himself.
He had already forgotten the first thing that Jesus said, that only God is good. Those words were drowned out by the voices that told him every day that he was no good, that he did not deserve his wealth, that he was not up to his job.
Jesus knew those voices. He had heard them in the wilderness. Even now they threatened to whisper their deceits in the night; that’s why he rose so often before dawn, to pray, to escape the whispering demons.
He pushed a little harder: “Try this: give it all away. Would that help?”
And then he leant in close, put his arm around the young man’s shoulders, administered the coup de grace: “Come, follow me. Come with me. My burden is light. My way does not demand goodness but God, and God is with you. God loves you.”
But he heard nothing beyond,”Give up,” and he walked away without hearing the rest.
And Jesus looked after him, and loved him, and shook his head in sorrow for him, and turned again towards Jerusalem.

About Rosalind C Hughes

Rosalind C Hughes is a priest and author living near the shores of Lake Erie. After growing up in England and Wales, and living briefly in Singapore, she is now settled in Ohio. She serves an Episcopal church just outside Cleveland. Rosalind is the author of A Family Like Mine: Biblical Stories of Love, Loss, and Longing , and Whom Shall I Fear? Urgent Questions for Christians in an Age of Violence, both from Upper Room Books. She loves the lake, misses the ocean, and is finally coming to terms with snow.
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2 Responses to Year B Proper 23: Poor little rich boy

  1. Melanie says:

    I don’t read all your posts, Rosalind, but I’m glad I read this one because it gives me chance to say how much I appreciate the way that love always triumphs (duh?!). Usually, the reader comes away further castigating the rich young man for his weakness/greed/cowardice in not simply giving everything away (as if it were ever simple!). Either they feel smug that they’re different or bad that they’re not, dead-end feelings both. Your understanding opens up possibilities rather than closing them down. I hope your new parish treasure your insights and wish you luck in your shared life xxx

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