I was watching a movie this past week about the life of St Francis of Assisi. He was just like the young man of today’s gospel. Francis had everything. Good family, money, nice clothes, promising future. But, as he portrayed in the movie, Francis seems empty; searching for something. Thinking he would find it in the fame of being a knight, he goes to war. He gets hurt; in his recovery, his powerlessness, his weakness, he finds Jesus. Jesus says to the Francis what he said to the rich young man, give it all away and come follow me. Francis literally find that. He walked away from all the stuff and found a joy we all envy. We too can have it it; if we give it all away, become unattached to what we have, don’t worry about tomorrow and put Jesus first, then we can find what Francis found.
In Rome, tomorrow, the Holy Father will canonize Archbishop Oscar Romero. Oscar was the a bishop in El Salvador in the 1970’s. Oscar, like the young man and Francis, had it all going for him. He was a career churchman. He obeyed all the rules, didn’t create any waves, was low key which is why he was made the Archbishop of El Salvador. The thought was he wouldn’t cause any problems with the government who was oppressing the poor and those who wanted El Salvador to be a free place not controlled by the very rich who oppressed the poor. However, like the rich young man and St Francis, Oscar met Jesus: in the life of his priest friend who worked in a poor parish and advocated for the poor who was shot by the government. Oscar met Jesus when he gave up all the power and wealth he had and walked among the poor and became their voice. He found Jesus in a prison cell surrounded by the cries of those who the government was trying to silence. Oscar was shot celebrating Mass at the hospital he served as chaplain.
Like the rich young man, Francis and Oscar, Jesus looks like on us with love….a love that sees what is ensnaring us from following him. For the rich young man, it was money; for Francis, it was prestige and fame; for Oscar, it was fear and the desire to keep the status quo; what is Jesus showing you and me to give up to follow him? I remember saying to someone one day when I knew I needed to let go of something in my life that I didn’t want to: What more does He want? My friend answered: Everything
This is the risk of knowing Jesus. The place to start is to ask yourself what cant I live without and see what pops us. What has society told me I need or I wont be complete? What does advertisements tell me that I absolutely need to be happy?
He wants everything and he doesn’t stop pursuing us. If we give away everything we become free. He want all of us and nothing more.
Prayer of St Ignatius Loyola
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.